A beautiful Cayman Islands sea turtle was saved from the soup bowl - and has found a home in Blackpool.
The female turtle, called Phoenix, was bred in captivity to end up on the menu, but was rescued as part of Sea Life Blackpool’s ‘breed, rescue, protect’ programme.
After arriving from quarantine in London in a specially-equipped vehicle, the team carefully carried the giant 19st green sea turtle on a stretcher into the water at the weekend.
She is the first rescued turtle to arrive in the North West.
Matthew Titherington, general manager at Sea Life Blackpool, said: “This is a proud moment for every single member of our team and throughout the Sea Life family.
“It’s exactly what our ‘breed, rescue, protect’ campaign is all about and we’re so pleased to have been involved supporting the important conservation work of the Sea Life Trust.
“We’ve been really looking forward to her arrival and she will be loved and cared for by our experienced team of aquarists. I know visitors will love her and she’ll quickly gain a big and loyal fan base.”
The new arrival, who wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild, where she will also help to further research into threatened species and possibly be involved in conservation and breeding programmes.
Turtle numbers are dwindling around the globe due to threats, including industrial fishing, getting caught up in huge nets, habitat destruction and plastic pollution. Green sea turtles are listed as an endangered species by the global watchdog IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Scott Blacker, head aquarist at Sea Life Blackpool, said: “Despite laws protecting sea turtles in most countries, threats include being hunted for their eggs, meat and shells, a legal practice in many parts of the world where they are considered a delicacy.
“Sea turtles are also threatened by destruction of their nesting and foraging areas, as well as becoming entangled in huge commercial and industrial fishing nets and so-called ‘ghost nets’, those which have been discarded.
"People are becoming increasingly aware of the conservation initiatives, which are taking place around the world and how everyone can help to protect turtles and other marine life. For example, by reducing their use of single-use plastic, such as straws and cups."