Saturday, 29 October 2011

Leatherback turtle washed up on Cumbrian beach, Ireland (Via Herp Digest)

Leatherback turtle washed up on Cumbrian beach, Ireland
By Victoria Brenan, News & Star, 10/27/11

An amazing discovery was made on a Cumbrian beach earlier this month when a leatherback turtle washed ashore.

The reptile - which is critically endangered - is not often seen in the waters around Cumbria but the latest appearance has confirmed the breed's existence in the Irish sea.

They say the turtles have been spotted swimming in the Irish sea, a rich food source for them because of the high levels of plankton and algae but numbers of them have dwindled worldwide due to egg theft.

The male turtle was found by a member of the public who alerted Cumbria Wildlife Trust after making the grim discovery at St Bees around a week ago.

"It was in such a bad condition it's not easy to say [how it died]," said Alan Wright, of the trust.
"We are still investigating.

"[Other ones] have either been killed by boat propellers or eaten a plastic bag and died. There's good chance there would be some human involvement in its death."

Mr Wright said the discovery was 'good and bad news.'

"It's good in that we know they are in the sea but obviously bad in that it's dead. We do get the odd one washing up on shore in Cumbria."

He said they believed the turtle was between 10 and 15 years old and said they could live for hundreds of years.

The largest one ever found in the UK was reportedly washed up in Wales. It was nearly 10ft long and weighed 916 kilos, equivalent to a Mini.

The turtle's body was removed by trust officers working with marine bodies, Defra and Natural England.
Experts are now trying to establish how it died.

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