PHOTO GALLERY: Ernie the giant green sea turtle makes a splash in Hunstanton

Bobbing around the pool, nibbling on broccoli and making a leisurely exploration of his new home, Ernie the giant green sea turtle already has a reputation as one chilled out customer.

The seven-year-old was welcomed at Hunstanton Sealife Sanctuary late on Monday night after a 12-hour journey and is settling in well, delighting visitors within hours of his arrival.

Already weighing more than 50 kilos and measuring roughly a metre in length, Ernie is set to quadruple in size and could live to be 150 years old.

He is the first turtle ever to feature at the sanctuary, on the promenade, and its excited staff have been busy preparing for his arrival for about six months.

Animal care team manager Kieran Copeland and aquarist Hollie Stephenson collected Ernie from a sister attraction in Holland and drove through the night with him travelling in a cushioned tank.

'I checked him every 15 minutes during the journey, taking his temperature and keeping him hydrated – this was a very well looked after turtle,' Hollie said. 'We were stopped at UK customs and none of them had ever seen a turtle before.

'We arrived at 9.30pm, spot on time, and Ernie started eating at about 4.30am.

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'He's a chilled out turtle and is very laid back.

'He's had a sleep and he's already well at home.'

Ernie, originally from a breeding facility in the Cayman Islands, previously shared his tank with another green turtle named Bert, but the friends now need more room to grow.

He spent his first night in Norfolk in a holding tank under close observation and was carefully moved to the specially-adapted display area yesterday (Tuesday).

Year five pupils from Hunstanton's Redgate Primary School watched as he took a look around and will now write short essays on sea turtles in a bid to win one of 12 places on a new Young Conservationists Panel.

'The children selected will learn about all our rescue, breeding and conservation work and help us tell visitors about that work,' said Kieran.

Ernie will be enjoying a diet of vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage and cucumber, and food supplements containing plankton and algae.

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