A rare turtle sighting is making waves on B.C.'s north coast.
Late last week, a group of crab fishermen from Prince Rupert was out in their boat when they spotted a beaked reptile — later identified as an Oliver ridley sea turtle, native to the tropical waters of Pacific Mexico — floating on a bed of kelp.
They called their friend Amanda Barney, who monitors the crab fishery on behalf of EcoTrust Canada. She told the men to bring the creature in to shore, where Barney and a team of rescuers would examine him.
"And once the crew found out that the turtle might be alive, they named it — so it was Frank the turtle," says Barney.
She wrapped Frank in a blanket and brought him back to her home, when she kept him in the basement for cool safekeeping.
'It's not a common occurrence to get a sea turtle in Prince Rupert — it's really far north'- Amanda Barney, EcoTrust Canada
Barney and her team still weren't sure whether Frank was dead or alive, as cold-blooded animals in shock often enter into a comatose state called cold-stunning. So the next morning she took Frank to veterinarian Paul Kennedy and had him hooked up to an EKG machine to see if there was a pulse.
"Sadly there was no response whatsoever and Frank was pronounced dead," says Barney.
Frank is currently laying in rest in the vet's freezer. In the coming weeks, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is expected to retrieve Frank and perform a necropsy to determine how he died — and indeed, how he found himself 3,600 kilometres from home.
As for Amanda Barney, the arrival of this exotic guest presented an opportunity for education, showing Frank around town to some of her friends' children.
"It's not a common occurrence to get a sea turtle in Prince Rupert — it's really far north," says Barney. "I took the turtle on a tour to get people engaged in marine life, and to remind them that our back door is the ocean."