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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020
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A turtle that washed up on a beach in Clare is being flown to Gran Canaria

It took a year to nurse Leona back to health.

Updated 2.15pm

Aer Lingus Turtle 2 Source: Robbie Reynolds Photography

A LOGGERHEAD TURTLE found washed up on a beach in Clare last year is flying out to her new home on Gran Canaria later today.

Leona (or potentially Leon, but they’re pretty sure it’s a she) has been nursed back to health over the past year by Galway Atlantiquarium.

She was found underweight and unresponsive, but after a week of medication, Leona gradually became more active.

When she was almost ready to head back to sea, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group issued an appeal for help in getting her to a sanctuary on Gran Canaria.

Airlines had originally said they were unable to carry the turtle as cargo, and it was hoped that someone could spare some room on a private jet to bring her across.

Leona, all set for take off Source: Joanne Casserly

Eventually Aer Lingus stepped in, and will fly Leona and two vets from the Galway Atlantiquarium out to her new home later today in economy class.

Aer Lingus said today that the lid of the crate will be removable to make sure Leona is okay.

She even got a ticket of her own.

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Aer Lingus Turtle 4 Source: Robbie Reynolds Photography

Leona will have a brief stay at a turtle rehabilitation centre and will be released as soon as Friday, all going to plan, Simon Berrow from IWDG explained.

She will also be fitted with a GPS tracker that could last as long as eight months, with updates posted to the IWDG website.

But how did Leona get here in the first place?

Very few Loggerhead turtles have been found in Ireland, Berrow said, but explained that some get caught in ocean currents and can end up on beaches along the western seaboard of Europe.

It is believed that many float across the Atlantic from the Caribbean.

Read: Group of children free dolphin trapped in rockpool >

More: Tortoise found ‘wandering around Dublin Castle’ >

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Nicky Ryan

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