Toronto Star

Huge turtle found dead in frozen lake


HALIFAX— The endangered leatherbac­k sea turtle is an elusive creature of the deep.

Last week, however, scientists were stunned when one of these rare, huge reptiles turned up dead in an unlikely place: at the edge of a frozen Cape Breton lake.

Sea turtle biologist Mike James said it’s possible the turtle was following jellyfish — the leatherbac­k’s main source of food — when it entered saltwater Bras d’Or Lake through a narrow channel and later failed to find its way back to the open ocean.

There have been previous eyewitness accounts of leatherbac­ks in the lake, which is more like an inland sea. But this recent find represents the first time a specimen has been positively identified in the area. “It’s a very significan­t record for sure,” James said.

Laura Bourque, veterinary pathologis­t in Charlottet­own, performed a necropsy. The 360-kilogram turtle — about the size of a grand piano — appeared to be emaciated. Bourque confirmed there was no other obvious cause of death, though other tests have yet to be completed.

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