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Turtle Leona heads for hotter water

AN endangered turtle that was flown home after spending the past year being nursed back to health in Ireland will be released into her natural warm waters later this week.

Fans of Leona the loggerhead turtle will be able to follow her movements for the next 17 months thanks to a tracker from Celestial Green Ventures.

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Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton (left) with Matt Hawkins, from Atlantaquria, Galway, aquarist Joanne Casserley and Galway county vet Rita Gately (right), pictured with the loggerhead turtle "Leona"

Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton (left) with Matt Hawkins, from Atlantaquria, Galway, aquarist Joanne Casserley and Galway county vet Rita Gately (right), pictured with the loggerhead turtle "Leona"

Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton (left) with Matt Hawkins, from Atlantaquria, Galway, aquarist Joanne Casserley and Galway county vet Rita Gately (right), pictured with the loggerhead turtle "Leona"

Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton (left) with Matt Hawkins, from Atlantaquria, Galway, aquarist Joanne Casserley and Galway county vet Rita Gately (right), pictured with the loggerhead turtle "Leona"

Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton pictured with the boarding card of "Leona" the loggerhead turtle

Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton pictured with the boarding card of "Leona" the loggerhead turtle

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Aer Lingus Customer Service, Edel Staunton (left) with Matt Hawkins, from Atlantaquria, Galway, aquarist Joanne Casserley and Galway county vet Rita Gately (right), pictured with the loggerhead turtle "Leona"

Following her Aer Lingus flight to Gran Canaria yesterday, Leona will rest in her new sanctuary in Las Palmas for a few days before being released into the sea.

Simon Griffin of Celestial Green Ventures said Leona would be monitored until the tracker runs out.

"The lifespan of the tracker is about 17 months so we hope to follow her progress until then," he said. "We've no way of knowing where she will go, but we hope it won't be back to colder waters.

"The first 10 years of a turtle's life are known as the lost years because they are too weak to swim against the tide and must go wherever they are taken, and that's how Leona ended up here.

"But we believe Leona is now about 15 so she should be strong enough now."

People will be able to track Leona at www.celestialgreenventures.com and also follow her twitter feed.

The page will feature an interactive map, and when she surfaces every five to 15 minutes the tag will transmit data and allow users to see the date and time Leona surfaced, her coordinates and the temperature of the water she is in.

Loggerheads are an endangered species and only ever venture on to land when females are nesting, so very little is known about the species.

It is hoped the information collected with Leona and her tag will aid in the conservation of loggerheads.

Leona was found washed up in Co Clare last year. She was close to death but was slowly nursed back to health at the Galway Atlantaquaria.

hnews@herald.ie


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