Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Giant Sea Turtle's Death on Cape Cod Angers Scientists – via Herp Digest

The leatherback turtle ingested a 3-foot piece of plastic trash, got tangled in fishing gear, and was struck by a boat, officials said.
By Jason Claffey (Patch Staff) November 13, 2015
A giant sea turtle washed up dead in Barnstable over the weekend and scientists were horrified to discover it ingested a 3-foot piece of plastic trash, got tangled in fishing gear, and was struck by a boat.
New England Aquarium officials said they have never seen a turtle killed in that manner.
The 400-pound leatherback turtle washed up on Sandy Neck Beach Sunday and was transported to the aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy for a necropsy. The findings were depressing.
The juvenile male turtle’s flippers were cut up by fishing gear, its shell was caved in from a boat strike, and there was a 3-foot piece of discarded plastic sheeting in its stomach.
“In one summer of its short life, this giant, highly endangered sea turtle had encountered a triple threat of human-caused hazards that keep this 65-million-year-old leatherback species teetering at the brink of extinction,” scientists said in a statement, adding its entanglement in fishing gear likely caused its death.

Leatherback turtle populations have been decreasing in recent years and it’s now listed as a “vulnerable” species by the World Wildlife Fund. The turtles are a critical component of marine ecosystems, as they feed on jelly fish, keeping those populations in check.

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