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Meet April and Iona SEA LIFE Loch Lomond’s lovable pair of turtles

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Meet April and Iona SEA LIFE Loch Lomond’s lovable pair of turtles

In honour of World Turtle Day earlier this week (May 23rd), SEA LIFE Loch Lomond is putting the spotlight on its lovable pair of turtles, April and Iona.

Celebrating her six-month anniversary at the centre, April, who is an Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, swapped the tropical Maldives for the scenic Loch Lomond back in November 2021. She arrived in the country as part of SEA LIFE’s ongoing conservation efforts, which saw the team work hard with the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at the Four Seasons Resort in the Maldives to help rehome and rehabilitate the injured turtle.

Colin Sinclair, Curator at SEA LIFE Loch Lomond:

“Since arriving April has been rehabilitating extremely well, she enjoys swimming up to visitors and can often be seen trying to wave to the team. She especially enjoys her shell being stroked with a sponge, it relaxes her so much she almost falls asleep!

“In January this year we also rescued a Loggerhead Turtle, who we have named Iona after the place she was found – off the coast of the Isle of Iona. She was discovered by a member of the public and was cold stunned and left struggling to survive in 10ºC water. After many months of rehabilitation and care from our team behind the scenes, Iona is making a great recovery.”

When April was first discovered, she was floating on the ocean surface entangled in ghost netting with a plastic bag around her neck. She was already missing her right front flipper due to the ghost netting entanglement and her left front flipper was also wounded by the friction from the plastic bag.

She was also diagnosed with tears in her lung, resulting in buoyancy issues meaning she could no longer live safely in the wild, hence why she made the 5,000+ miles journey to Scotland to live at her new forever home – SEA LIFE Loch Lomond. Her new home closely replicates her natural habitat in the wild, allowing her to spend her days with friendly tropical fish whilst being treated to all her favourite foods by the dedicated Animal Care Team.

Colin Sinclair, Curator at SEA LIFE Loch Lomond:

“We don’t officially know whether the turtle is a female as it can take up to 30 years for this particular species to reach maturity. It is only as an adult you can tell the sex of the turtle. However, as a team we refer to her as a ‘she’ due to her personality resembling Aprils. We think Iona is the perfect name for her!”

After being rescued and brought to SEA LIFE Loch Lomond, Iona was extremely dehydrated and cold stunned, so needed to be warmed up very gradually. Iona has been kept behind the scenes whilst she recovers and has now almost doubled in size and weight. She has made a tremendous recovery and is able to swim and feed independently.

However, Iona still has a long way to go in her recovery journey. She will be transferred to SEA LIFE Scarborough at the beginning of June. the site there has extensive rehabilitation facilities and Iona can continue to receive dedicated care behind the scenes as she completes her recovery. Once Iona is strong enough the team aim to release her back to her natural habitat, most likely out in the Canary Islands.

Kathryn Angel, General Manager at SEA LIFE Loch Lomond:

“We are beyond happy to have April and Iona here at SEA LIFE Loch Lomond. The work done throughout SEA LIFE centres across the country to rehabilitate sea creatures is highly important and we’re honoured to be a part of these amazing creature’s journey to recovery.

“We wanted to give a huge shout out to our flippered friends April and Iona and encourage the public to come and visit us to learn more about the plight facing these creatures in the wild, as well as educating our visitors about our conservation efforts to protect these amazing creatures. Who knows, they might even get a wave back from April – she loves to meet new friends!”

To visit SEA LIFE Loch Lomond or any other turtles at SEA LIFE centres throughout the UK, visit the SEA LIFE website here: https://www.visitsealife.com/

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