Saturday, January 22, 2011

A turtle on a whale shark boat?

Yes you did read the title correctly.... Team leader Abi March describes an unusual incident last week:

One afternoon during lunch we observed a young green turtle swimming under one of our smaller boats. She seemed to be trying to get something off her shell by rubbing herself on the propellers. Closer inspection showed she had a barnacle on her back, which can sometimes burrow under the shell and cause discomfort.

Abi and Sophia, about to get that barncale removed, photo Hussan Al Qallaf

Boat skipper Wadah picked her up and luckily for her we had turtle expert Warren Baverstock, the aquarium manager of the Dubai Burj Al Arab hotel, onboard, Warren also runs a large turtle rescue programme so knew exactly what to do....

Warren injected the barnacle with lemon juice which would kill it and then eventually fall off. In the meantime, Sophia, the name given to the turtle by Captain Vicente, was given a temporary home in a tub of fresh water aboard the main boat. She was monitored by the team and given clean water and was even tempted by some food.

Warren attends to that barnacle, photo Abi March

Sophia was kept overnight, sleeping at the foot of guest Lucy Gower’s bed, who kept a watchful if but sleepy eye on her. Just before lunch the following day Warren checked Sophia’s shell and picked off the dead barnacle.

Everyone was delighted at her recovery and even though we’d all grown quite fond of little Sophia it was lovely to see Wadah return her to the sea, swimming off a little lighter.

Sophia heads back to her home less one annoying barnacle, photo Abi March

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