Sea Turtle Taken To Safety On A Private Flight

Turtles Fly Too matches pilots with sea turtles that need to be relocated to warmer climates. AIN's editor-in-chief went along on one turtle’s journey.

When a group of kindhearted people rescued Berni Stranders, an olive ridley sea turtle, from the cold waters at Port Alberni near Vancouver, Canada, they set in motion a logistical challenge that ended with the turtle’s release into the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean on September 8.

Berni had been way off course and had somehow taken a wrong turn and ended up in Port Alberni, hence his name. He is only the fourth olive ridley sea turtle to be recorded in the waters of British Columbia and the second to be treated at the Ocean Wise Conservation Association/Vancouver Aquarium, where he spent more than 10 months after his rescue

Berni got cold-stunned and, according to the aquarium, “when the water temperature falls below 10 degrees Celsius, cold-stunned sea turtles experience a decrease in heart rate and circulation, causing them to become lethargic to the point where they are unable to swim or forage.”

Because he was so far from the warmer waters where he could thrive, Berni needed a ride, and this is where Turtles Fly Too came in. The charitable organization arranges for pilots with extra space in their airplanes to transport cold-stunned turtles to aquariums in warmer climes, where they can be rehabilitated and released.