29 October 2023, by Abi Carter

A super-rare Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle has been found off the coast of the Netherlands, a few thousand kilometres away from her usual stomping grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. She’s currently recuperating in Rotterdam, and will hopefully soon make the journey home.

Boeier the Kemp’s sea turtle is being cared for in Rotterdam Zoo

Some fishermen found the small turtle in their nets off the Dutch coast, near Walcheren. They contacted the Marine Animal Rescue Team, who contacted Diergaarde Blijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo) to take her into their care. Blijdorp is the only facility in the Netherlands with permission to capture and release sea turtles, and over the years has had a good amount of experience in looking after them. 

The turtle, who has been nicknamed Boeier after the ship that found her, is currently recuperating in a special marine quarantine facility at Blijdorp. When she arrived she was examined by a vet, who said her condition appeared stable. She is alert and swimming well, although her shell has suffered some damage. Blijdorp said she had clearly “gone quite off course”, and that sometimes this happens to young turtles who get confused and then wash up suffering from hypothermia. 

Boeier is now being given time to rest and gain strength. Staff hope that she can be taken back to Florida and released next year. For now, she will remain in quarantine, but in a few weeks she could be moved to the mangrove area of the zoo for the public to catch a glimpse of her. 

7 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles have been found in the Netherlands

Classed as a critically endangered species, the Kemp’s sea turtle is the smallest and rarest turtle in the sea. An adult typically grows to somewhere between 65 and 75 centimetres and weighs up to 40 kilograms. Their native habitat is in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Boeier is not the first Kemp’s sea turtle to be found in the Netherlands: seven have been found since 1954. Of the seven, two were successfully returned to their home habitat, but five unfortunately did not make it. All being well, Boeier could be the third to make it home alive and well.  

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