At the end of May, a dangerous alien species, the red-eared turtle, was spotted in Töölönlahti, Helsinki. Amateur photographer Anna-Marja Valtonen was photographing swans near the center of Helsinki as the gaze caught a strange reptile moving on the dried reeds.
Valtonen had time to get a shabby picture of a turtle, but there was no way to catch a nimble animal.
Read more: Anna-Marja Valtonen collided with a reptile in the middle of Helsinki, which should not be in Finnish nature - Then it hid in Töölönlahti in the blink of an eye
Now the red-eared turtle has been caught. Anni Juusela, 27, from Helsinki, had read the news about a turtle living in Töölönlahti, decided to roll up her sleeve and go hunting for a villain. He had gone to buy a small wound that cost a few euros and then headed purposefully for a turtle hunt.
- I thought that when it is a sunny day, it is definitely somewhere on a rock to sunbathe or on a reed mat or in some shallow water, the villain savior says now.
Juusela knows red-eared turtles well, as his family had one as a pet for 25 years. By the way, turtles and all kinds of animals are close to the heart in Juusela.
- If there's an animal in need somewhere, I'll always go help if I can.
However, the turtle was not found in an instant.
- For a couple of hours I systematically toured Töölönlahti. Then I came to a place with shallow, muddy water. I waded into the water, looked around and so surprisingly the head of a turtle with a red stripe, Juusela repeats the events of Tuesday.
He sneaked, holding his breath near the frog, capturing it from behind his wounds. The “dinner plate-sized” turtle was at first limp. Juusela thinks that the turtle was not allowed to eat outside, and besides, salt water is not suitable for it.
- I named it Marja-Leena, because I had a head in my head, “What belongs to Marja-Leena”, when I married it from the bay, Juusela says and laughs.
Juusela went to ask for water from the cafe next door. At the same time, he contacted Viikki Discovery Animal House.
- I rinsed the animal with fresh water. At that point, it realized that the beach vacation was over, and it started rattling and talking and trying to bite. It may click across your finger if you get bitten.
The turtle was allowed to spend the night at Anni's home in good care.
Photo: Anni Juusela
Marja-Leena spent the night at Juusela's home, where she got to eat herring fillets. On Wednesday day, Juusela wrapped Marja-Leena in a “towel burrito”, put it in a bag and went to Viikki.
Juusela estimates that the turtle weighed at least a pound and a half, probably more.
- Such a hut, Juusela describes.
Tia, the animal caretaker of the joint discovery animal house in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, says that found frogs and other found animals are kept in the animal house for 15 days, during which time the owner has the opportunity to pick up her pet. If the owner is not found, the ownership of the found animal is transferred to the municipality.
- After that, the animal is either relocated, or it is assessed according to its condition whether it can be housed at all, Tia says.
He says that a few turtles are brought to Viikki Discovery House every summer. Land turtles find their owners back more often than water turtles.
However, Marja-Leena may have a happy ending. Juusela says that he has already been contacted by a few people who have offered the villain a new home. The discoverer would have liked to have kept the turtle himself if it had been possible.
- Unfortunately, my small studio apartment does not fit in a two-meter aquarium. Now I just hope that Marja-Leena gets a good new home.
Juusela hopes that people will not let turtles into the wild, because they do not belong there.
Photo: Anni Juusela
As the red-eared turtle has been defined as a harmful alien species since 2015, its import, breeding, sale and other possession, as well as its release into the environment, is prohibited. The species must therefore not be acquired as a pet or released into the wild.
If a red-eared turtle is found in the home, it may be kept until the natural death of the animal. However, the owner must make sure that the turtle does not reproduce or escape into the wild.
This is what a red-eared turtle looks like. In 2008, this abandoned individual sought a new home for himself.
Photo: Päijät-Häme Animal Welfare Association