Storms wash rare sea turtle up on beach
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