Though primarily for rare and endangered species, the new facility will host 18 Mississippi Map Turtles (photo right) that are not endangered but that arrived in the UK without the correct papers and were confiscated by Customs officers.
There were more than 100 of them, but the rest are happily ensconced at similar facilities in Weymouth, Birmingham and Scarborough after being delivered into the care of SEA LIFE by the Heathrow-based Specialist Wildlife Service.
The new sanctuary in Oban is the latest in a network of breeding centres designed to build captive stocks of endangered freshwater turtles. "We will also have snapping turtles, Australian snake-necked turtles (photo left), yellow-bellied sliders and box turtles," said Scottish SEA LIFE boss Craig Connor. One of the largest residents will be snapping turtle Grumpy Gordy, named after former PM Gordon Brown, who was already living at the Sanctuary after being re-homed over a year ago.
"A lot of the turtles are former domestic pets whose owners bought them when they were tiny and didn´t realise how large they can grow and how much care they need," said Craig.
"Part of the new facility´s mission will be to discourage people from making similar purchases in future.
"We´re excited to have been chosen to host the first turtle sanctuary in Scotland," he added. "It also links neatly to SEA LIFE´s big conservation mission this year which is to raise enough cash to complete a rescue centre for endangered sea turtles on the Greek island of Zakynthos."