It took three years, but this lost sea turtle finally got a one-way ticket home.
His journey started when the Johnstone family discovered the loggerhead turtle washed up on an Irish beach in January 2019. Soon after taking the poor creature home, they brought him to the Exploris Aquarium.
At the time, the 9-month-old sea turtle only weighed a few hundred grams and was believed to have gotten caught up in the wrong current.
This was especially dangerous because loggerheads are an endangered species who thrive in warm climates, making the North Atlantic water life-threatening. In fact, by the time the little guy was saved, he was already suffering from hypothermia.
Despite the odds, the tiny turtle survived. It’s because of this fighting spirit that he was named Julius Caesar, or JC for short.
Because of the pandemic, JC’s trip back home had to be delayed. In the meantime, he received round-the-clock care in the aquarium’s tropical tank where there was no shortage of tasty fish and squid.
Two and a half years later, thanks to Exploris Aquarium and the airline Aer Lingus, JC was finally able to fly home to Spain on September 15, 2021. With his boarding pass in hand (OK, so maybe he didn’t hold it himself, but he actually did have a pass), he made his way onto the flight.
Transporting an endangered species of turtle doesn’t happen every day, so the airline made sure to recognize how significant this trip was.
“It is our pleasure to welcome aboard a very special passenger today and to ensure the safe transportation of JC the Turtle to Gran Canaria,” announced the pilot, Captain Peter Lumsden.
Now a whopping 55 pounds, JC required plenty of special accommodations, including his seat on the plane. Unlike lots of animals his size, placing him in the hold was not an option. So instead, JC got to go home all while receiving the special treatment he deserves.
“Keeping the turtle’s temperature above 19 degrees is critical to his well-being, and he requires regular monitoring and shell lubrication so placing him in the aircraft hold was not an option,” Peter explained. “His specially-designed crate will be securely strapped across a number of seats in the cabin.”
Once they arrived at their destination, they took JC to the Tarifa Wildlife Recovery Center. The veterinarians there watched over him and helped him get acclimated to the warmer weather. Once they were confident in his behavior, feeding, and physical conditions, they officially released him into the wild.
JC must have been ready to go home because in less than 24 hours, he was able to do just that! While it took time and a lot of team efforts, we’re so happy JC is finally back out in the wild where he belongs.
Share this article to thank everyone who played a part in keeping this sweet endangered turtle safe.
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.