Snorkel came to the National Marine Aquarium in 1998 from the old aquarium that used to be situated under the Marine Biological Association (MBA) building on the Hoe in Plymouth.
Unfortunately she could not be rehabilitated and released to the wild If handled correctly often cold stunned turtles in UK waters can be released again if they are handled by experienced husbandry staff.
She had damage to her left eye which leaves her struggling to see whats coming, hence why you might see her bump into rockwork in her exhibit. Although with a tough shell these blows are of little concern to her and she can even be seen to use them as a brake as she navigates her tank!
Snorkel washed up in a cold stunned state and probably received the eye wound and other now healed wounds whilst being too weak to swim and thus knocked around on rocks in the surf. This was down at Sennen Cove in Cornwall on the 16th of February 1990.
She was initially rescued nursed back to health at the now closed Penzance aquarium. Other Turtles that were washed up that year were successfully rehabilitated and then released back to the wild but they had to be flown to a warmer climate.
Sadly as Snorkel could not be released with confidence she would cope in the wild she remained in Penzance until the aquarium closed.
Another aquarium stepped in to offer a home to all the livestock in 1995 but didn’t know they were to receive a turtle and didn’t have a suitable tank for her.
So she then moved to the MBA and remained there until the NMA opened and she moved down the hill to join us.
So Snorkel lives in our Great Barrier Reef exhibit and is one of the animals that represent the ecosystem of this diverse reef.
We feed her twice a day as she needs to have medication in her food. This is to enable her to cope with her epilepsy, otherwise it can lead to fits which for an air breathing animal could be very dangerous.
Whilst in our care and due to the nature of her head and brain related problems we have x-rayed and CT scanned her but so far nothing has suggested a reason for the problems, or concern that other health issues are going to develop.