A 2-year-old Newfoundland named Veda happened to be in the right place at the right time Monday morning.
Veda was walking ahead of her pet parents along the beach in Plymouth, Mass., when she spotted a stranded loggerhead sea turtle that was almost hidden in the same-colored sand, seaweed and debris that had washed ashore during an storm the day before.
Leah and Brad Bares wondered why their dog suddenly stopped and lay down in the sand.
“It was something she had never seen,” Leah told the Boston Globe. “That’s just the nature of a Newfoundland … instincts that it needed to be saved or helped.”
If Veda hadn’t found the sea turtle, it would have died within a few hours. The temperature was in the 20s, much too cold for a loggerhead to survive.
The Bares told the Boston Globe they “freaked out” at first when they saw the turtle. They covered it with seaweed to help keep it warm and made some cell-phone calls.
Soon William Gray, a volunteer with the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, arrived and helped the couple carry the 40-pound sea turtle off the beach. He brought it to the New England Aquarium’s off-site Animal Care Center in Quincy, Mass.
“This sea turtle coming ashore on January 11 is the latest to ever strand alive so late in the winter in the aquarium’s 25-year effort to rehabilitate cold-stunned sea turtles off the Massachusetts coast,” the aquarium said in a press release today. “Besides the late date, this turtle was unusual as it was found on the South Shore versus Cape Cod, where 99 percent of the strandings occur.”
After four days of slowly being re-warmed, the sea turtle’s body temperature has been raised from 30 degrees to a closer-to-normal 70 degrees.
“The animal is bright and alert with a guarded but promising prognosis,” the aquarium said.
Aquarium spokesman Tony LeCasse told the Boston Globe, “We were very lucky. If that dog hadn’t seen that sea turtle … they probably would have never noticed.”
The lucky loggerhead has been named Newfie in honor of its rescuer.
“Each year aquarium rescue staff name many of the sea turtles after a particular theme, such as cartoon characters or constellations,” the aquarium noted. “Strangely enough, this year’s naming theme is dog breeds.”
Another strange — and very cool — coincidence: Veda’s dog mom is an artist, and one of her most popular works is a watercolor painting of a loggerhead turtle. Leah donates 20 percent of the proceeds from each sale to the non-profit National Marine Life Center in Bourne, Mass.
“There’s some people in the neighborhood who are against dogs on the beach,” Leah told the Boston Globe, “but this is all the more reason to keep bringing her on walks.”
Photos: New England Aquarium