Turtle named after Scottish island taken 1,700 miles home

A turtle that was nursed back to health after it washed up on a Scottish beach has been released back to its home waters 1,700 miles away.

The creature was found malnourished and dehydrated on Iona in January last year, and was later named after the island.

Loggerhead turtle Iona had not been expected to make the night after she was spotted by a passer-by more than 1,000 miles from her natural habitat.

She was taken to Sea Life in Loch Lomond for rehabilitation, before being relocated to Sea Life in Scarborough.

When she arrived at Loch Lomond, she was cold-stunned and heavily dehydrated, as well as being the smallest live stranded Loggerhead turtle to be recorded in the UK. 

She was rehabilitated at Sea Life in Scarborough for 18 months, before being released in the Portuguese Azores.

At the time of release Iona’s weight was 21kg, up from the 2.3kg upon her initial rescue – an increase of over ten times the weight she was originally found at.

‘We feel incredibly proud to see Iona return to the ocean,’ said Todd German from the Scarborough aquarium.

‘She was in extremely poor physical health when she washed up in Scotland earlier last year, so to see the journey she has been on in that time period has been amazing. 

‘In the case of Iona, she simply would not have survived if it wasn’t for the aid of the person who called in the original sighting, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, zoo vets and SEA LIFE’s specialist animal health team.’

Graham McGrath, who heads up the SEA LIFE TRUST charity said: ‘It’s fantastic to see Iona’s health and fitness improve so much during her rehabilitation with SEA LIFE, and I’m delighted that she has been able to return to the ocean.’

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