Storms wash rare sea tur­tle up on beach

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

THE re­mains of a “crit­i­cally en­dan­gered” sea tur­tle were found washed up on the south-west Anglesey shore.

The leatherback – the largest species of liv­ing tur­tle – is thought to have come from French Guiana on the north­east coast of South Amer­ica, a pop­u­lar nest­ing place for the species.

It was ini­tially dis­cov­ered by the Holy­head Coast­guard near Rhos­neigr last Tues­day in an ad­vanced state of de­com­po­si­tion.

It is thought to have been washed ashore af­ter ex-hur­ri­cane Ophe­lia bat­tered the re­gion last week, with winds of more than 90mph.

Walk­ers on the beach on Satur­day caught some im­ages of the tur­tle, left on the shore un­til Anglesey Coun­cil was able to dis­pose of it.

Rod Pen­rose, of the UK Ce­tacean Strand­ings In­ves­ti­ga­tion Pro­gramme (CSIP), had no de­tails of the size, age or weight of the tur­tle but it ap­pears to be at least two feet long.

“The leatherback tur­tle is one of the most dif­fi­cult things in the world to age,” Mr Pen­rose said.

“I have in­formed Anglesey County Coun­cil to dis­pose of the tur­tle but I sup­pose they have a lot more on their plate to deal with af­ter this week’s bad weather.”

Mr Pen­rose said the tur­tle found on Anglesey is the eleventh leatherback to have washed up on the UK shore this year – all in a “sig­nif­i­cant state of de­com­po­si­tion”.

The giant tur­tles pre­fer trop­i­cal and sub­trop­i­cal wa­ters but Mr Pen­rose added: “They are one of the only marine species to raise their body tem­per­a­ture to ad­just to cooler tem­per­a­tures.”

The dis­cov­ery comes less than a week af­ter a seal pup was res­cued from Cem­lyn beach on Anglesey af­ter be­ing washed up by the same storm.

The pup was found by bee­keeper Katie Hay­ward, who co­or­di­nated a late-night res­cue on the beach to help the pup re­unite with his mother.

Direc­tor of Anglesey Sea Zoo, Frankie Ho­bro said that, although the leatherback tur­tle is crit­i­cally en­dan­gered, many peo­ple don’t re­alise that it is, in fact, a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the UK.

“They come to North Wales specif­i­cally to feed on the huge swarms of large jel­ly­fish. But, be­cause they’re very hard to spot, peo­ple don’t re­alise they’re here.

“They do come to the sur­face like any other tur­tle but they don’t stay around if they see any­thing.

“The leatherback tur­tle is com­mon be­tween May and Septem­ber, when it vis­its the re­gion’s coasts to feed.”

The species can grow up to seven feet long and some can ex­ceed 2,000 pounds.

Marine species washed up on PIC­TURE: David Har­ries beaches are in­valu­able for re­search and should be re­ported as soon as pos­si­ble to the Ce­tacean Strand­ings In­ves­ti­ga­tion Pro­gramme (CSIP) for free on 0800 6520333.

The re­mains of a leatherback sea tur­tle was found washed up on the Anglesey shore

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