A SPECIES of turtle that normally swims in much warmer waters than around the UK was found washed up on Earnse Bay. 

When Walney resident Paul Knight discovered the Loggerhead Turtle he initially thought it was dead. However, when they called marine experts they found that it was in cold-water shock and still had a chance of being rescued. 

The Mail: The turtle is now recovering in BlackpoolThe turtle is now recovering in Blackpool (Image: Sarah Neill)

Paul arrived at the beach at 8.30am on Sunday, February 4 and discovered the turtle fifteen minutes later. 

He said: "It appeared to be dead. We contacted the Marine Conservation Society and they asked us to gently stroke its eye, they can go into cold shock and appear dead but it will respond to touch - it did. 

"The MCS dispatched a medic from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and we helped him to recover the animal from the beach and load it into his van. It took four or us! He took the animal to Blackpool Sea Life Centre where it was placed in an isolation tank and started to show signs of improvement, although its body temperature was very low."

The Mail: Loggerhead turtles in cold shock can appear deadLoggerhead turtles in cold shock can appear dead (Image: Sarah Neill)

Paul said they were on the beach until 11.10am. The turtle will be kept in a tropical water tank at the Sea Life Centre until it can be transferred to Scarborough and then eventually taken home and released in its natural waters away from the UK. 

He described the 4 foot long, 50kg creature as 'beautiful' and it being an 'absolute pleasure' to be involved into its rescue. 

READ MORE: Mass stranding of starfish spotted in south Walney

Sarah Neill, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: "Unlike the leatherback turtle, which is endothermic and so can maintain some control of its body temperature and therefore remain active and feed in colder waters, hard-shelled cold stunned vagrants are ectothermic and so cannot regulate their body temperature.

The Mail: The turtle weighed 50kg and took four people to carryThe turtle weighed 50kg and took four people to carry (Image: Sarah Neill)

"Their arrival is often associated with unusual weather conditions such as storms, and the turtles are usually in very poor health. They can be swept from warm waters by strong winds and currents into the north Atlantic Gyre, furthermore, their poor physical condition may impact on their navigational ability."

Sarah said that loggerheads stop feeding at temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius. She said that to avoid infection, the turtle will be gradually warmed up by increments of 2 degrees Celsius per day until around 25 degrees. 

The Mail: The turtle when it was found on Earnse BayThe turtle when it was found on Earnse Bay (Image: Paul Knight)

Sarah said that it is important not to return them to the sea if you find a Loggerhead in the UK, as they will re-strand or die. It is always best to report the stranding and seek advice from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue. 

According to the World Wildlife Fund website, Loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, usually nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Isreal and Libya.  However, their extinction risk is classed as 'vulnerable' because the turtles are often victims of bycatch, a term for accidentally being caught by trawler vessels. Their nesting sites are also under threat from tourism development, according to the fund.