WHEN Una Mullin and her father-in-law Tom came across a limp loggerhead turtle washed up on a beach near Barryroe, they feared the worst.
Una and Tom were walking along the shore just days after Christmas – on December 28th – at Moloney’s Beach, near Dunworley, when they found the startled creature.
Little did Una realise that five months later she would be seeing that same turtle returned back to full health and ready to be dropped into the ocean once more.
‘We actually thought it was a rock first when we saw it, and Tom pushed it back into the water. However, when we were coming back from our walk we saw that she was out of the water again. We immediately knew something was wrong as she was very limp and there seemed to be no fight in her,’ Una told The Southern Star.
‘We were worried for it and I rang the ISPCA who put me in contact with Louise Overy at Dingle Oceanworld and she asked me to send her a picture to see if it was a loggerhead turtle. Once we confirmed that it was, Louise told me to bring it home and I put it into a laundry basket. The poor thing weighed only 15kg and Louise told me to put her on wet ground and wrap a dry, warm towel over her.’
Kevin Flannery from Dingle Oceanworld collected the turtle and she was put on a saline drip. It was touch-and-go for a few days with her.
However, she made a remarkable recovery while being cared for by Shonagh O’Sullivan, the centre’s vet, and managed to regain her weight. The staff even decided to named her ‘Una’ after Mrs Mullin who found her.
Una kept in constant contact with Dingle regarding the turtle’s progress and got the news that her namesake was set to be released off the Gibraltar coast by the crew of the LÉ Róisín. ‘I couldn’t wait to see her and my husband Dan had never seen her, so it was great to be asked to come to Haulbowline. I couldn’t believe how big she was, and the fact her colour had changed and she was even fighting to get out of the box,’ added Una.
It proved to be an emotional experience for Una and she has nothing but praise for Kevin and all the hardworking team in Dingle.
‘It was so good of the naval service to invite me and the team down from Dingle for the send-off and I didn’t expect that there would be so much media coverage about it. I was thrilled to see the actual video of ‘Una’ being released into the water and I can’t stop looking at it,’ said Una. ‘Una’ wasn’t alone on her trip aboard the LÉ Róisín, either, as she was joined by Tallula, another loggerhead turtle who was found washed up in Cornwall late last year, and the pair hitched a ride to get back to the warm waters off the Gibraltar coast. Turtle power, indeed.