Search

Yarmouth marine ace off to Carolina

PUBLISHED: 12:17 08 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:07 03 July 2010

GREAT Yarmouth Sea Life centre marine expert Christine Pitcher is being sent across the Atlantic tomorrow to help return one of the world's rarest sea turtles to the wild.

GREAT Yarmouth Sea Life centre marine expert Christine Pitcher is being sent across the Atlantic tomorrow to help return one of the world's rarest sea turtles to the wild.

You could say the 28-year-old was shell-shocked when her boss told her she was needed in North Carolina!

“Our sister centre in Weymouth recently returned a Kemps Ridley turtle called Willy to the States after looking after it for two years following its stranding on a Devon beach,” explained Christine.

“Kemps Ridleys live around the Caribbean and Willy was only the second of her species - Willy is short for Wilhelmina - to be found alive in the UK.”

Willy was flown to North Carolina over a month ago accompanied by a former Great Yarmouth Sea Life displays supervisor Claire Little, and was settled into a rescue centre at a place called Topsail Island.

“She needed to recover from the journey and adjust to the different time zone,” said Christine, “which meant Claire had to leave her there.

“Claire couldn't make the return trip for Willy's release back into the sea, and so I was asked if I would like to go.”

Christine's boss Mike Salt said she was the obvious choice, having put in sterling work since arriving at the attraction last April caring for the centre's green turtles as well as all the other residents.

“She spent seven years prior to that caring for all the creatures at our Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, but she's particularly fond of the turtles and I had no hesitation in recommending her for this honour.”

Christine flies from Heathrow to Raleigh Durham tomorrow, and will arrive at the rescue centre on Topsail Island about 8pm that evening after a three hour car journey.

Early the next morning she will help Jean Beasley, who runs the Topsail rescue centre, carry Willy down to the beach and release her in the Atlantic surf.

Weighing just 2.6 kilos and measuring only 30cms when first rescued Willy had to be tube fed a special vitamin-enriched fish soup to get her on the road to recovery.

By the time she was flown out in April, Willy had quadrupled in weight to a hefty 10.8 kilos and measured 71 cms.

“Being involved with sea turtles on a daily basis I had obviously followed news of Willy's progress closely,” said Christine, “but never managed to get down to Weymouth to see her.

“Now I'm going to get to see her for the first time on what will be one of the most important days of her life to date, and I feel really privileged.”

Christine will fly back again the day after Willy's release, and will be back tending to green turtle George at the Great Yarmouth centre by the following Monday.

If you value what this gives you, please consider supporting our work. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury