A rare sea turtle found near death, an ocean away from her normal range, will finally return home after a transatlantic flight.
Tally, a female Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, is slated to be released into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services sea turtle coordinator Mary Kay Skoruppa told Texas Public Radio in an interview published Saturday.
Tally the turtle in a photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A dog walker had spotted the turtle found in a sick and bedraggled state on the shoreline of Wales’ north coast in November 2021, according to a news release from the wildlife agency. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles typically inhabit the Gulf of Mexico and the coastal waters of eastern North America. But occasionally the Gulf Stream can sweep up young turtles and propel them to the frigid Northeast Atlantic.
“It’s fairly unusual,” Skoruppa told TPR. “But what is most unusual is that she survived.”
Tally swims in a tank at the Houston Zoo.
Clinging to life, Tally was taken in by Wales’ Anglesey Sea Zoo, where she underwent months of intensive rehabilitation. Wildlife officials also had to go through the complicated process of securing the appropriate paperwork for Tally ― a member of a critically endangered species ― to travel back to the United States. They also had to work out the logistics of safely transporting a sea turtle by air, a mission ultimately undertaken by Turtles Fly Too, a nonprofit dedicated to relocating sea turtles.
Once she made it to Texas, Tally spent time decompressing and regaining her strength at the Houston Zoo. She also underwent a thorough veterinary examination after her long journey and was awarded a clean bill of health, the organization announced on Friday.
Tally receives a veterinary at the Houston Zoo.
Before Tally heads back to the ocean, researchers will affix a tracking device to her shell, but it won’t be there forever. “Just long enough so that we can track her movements and see what she’s doing after she gets back into the wild after being gone for almost two years,” Skoruppa said.