Friday, January 15, 2016

Dog Finds a Stranded Turtle

Giant Newfoundland dogs have been famous for centuries for their rescue of fishermen and the shipwrecked, but earlier this week a young Newfie might have established a rescue first for the breed as she found a stranded sea turtle!

Veda the Newfoundland dog who rescued a loggerhead

Monday morning, Veda—a two year old, 120-pound female Newfoundland—was walking Ellisville Beach in Plymouth with her owners, Leah and Brad Bares. A storm the day before had littered the sand with piles of sea weed and other debris. Veda, walking ahead of the pair, moved toward the water and laid down. There camouflaged against the beach sand was a sea turtle with a light brown shell that had just emerged from the frigid surf of Cape Cod Bay. The Bares feel that they would not have seen it without Veda’s vigilance. Aquarium officials are sure that given the air temperature in the 20’s, the loggerhead would not have survived a few more hours of that kind of exposure.

Veda’s quiet and focused response saved this turtle and is completely typical of Newfoundlands.

They moved the stranded loggerhead above
the high tide line and called rescuers.

The Bares were surprised and reached out to friends on their cell phone to find out what to do. A couple of calls later, William Gray, a near-by resident and a volunteer with the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay, helped carry the 40 pound loggerhead off the beach and brought it to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy. After four days of slow re-warming, the loggerhead’s body temperature has been brought up five degrees per day from the mid-40’s to the low 70’s. The animal is bright and alert with a guarded but promising prognosis.

This sea turtle coming ashore on January 11 is the latest to ever strand alive so late in the winter in the Aquarium’s 25-year effort to rehabilitate cold-stunned sea turtles off the Massachusetts coast. Besides the late date, this turtle was unusual as it was found on the South Shore versus Cape Cod where 99 percent of the strandings occur.

Brad and Leah Bardes

Beyond a sea rescue breed of dog finding a sea turtle, there were a couple of other interesting coincidences. Leah Bares is an artist, and one of her best-selling prints is of a loggerhead sea turtle. For years, she has donated 20 percent of those proceeds to the National Marine Life Center, a near-by marine animal rehab center. Prior to Monday, Leah had only ever seen loggerheads at the New England Aquarium.

The turtle is already getting treatment at the Aquarium's off-site sea turtle hospital in the Animal Care Center in Quincy, Mass. Each year Aquarium rescue staff name many of the sea turtles after a particular theme, such as cartoon characters or constellations. Strangely enough, this year’s naming theme is dog breeds. There is no doubt or debate that this loggerhead will be named Newfie in honor of Veda and her giant but gentle breed.

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