Rescued from a turtle disaster

Soft shelled turtle with Blue Reef's Christopher Hartley.

Soft shelled turtle with Blue Reef's Christopher Hartley.

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AN UNUSUAL freshwater turtle is getting used to new surroundings after being made homeless by the death of its owner.

The bizarre-looking Chinese soft-shelled turtle was given to Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium by the warden of an old people’s home.

After a spell in the aquarium’s quarantine area, the turtle will go on public display in a freshwater tank alongside a variety of freshwater fish species.

Blue Reef’s Anna Pellegrino said: “The turtle was living in a tank in this lady’s home and after she sadly passed away the warden contacted us to see if we could give it a new home to live out the remainder of its life.

“With its soft shell, extremely long neck and tube-like nostrils which are used like a snorkel, they are definitely one of the world’s most unusual species of turtle.

“Once fully grown they can reach up to 30cms in length and will provide a fascinating new addition.”

In Asia the species is farmed both as a food source and as an ingredient for traditional medicine.

It is estimated that more than 100 million turtles are sold each year – the majority being used as the main ingredient for turtle soup.

In the wild it is mainly nocturnal and eats anything from crustaceans and insects to small fish and amphibians.

The species is classed as ‘vulnerable’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.