Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Warm water turtle found on beach

A warm water turtle has washed up on Woolacombe beach

A rare warm water turtle has washed up on a beach in Devon.

The Kemp's ridley turtle, measuring just 30cm in length, was found on Woolacombe Beach on Tuesday.

Experts say the creature, which had died, is not the first Kemp's ridley to be washed up along the UK coastline this winter.

The species was on the brink of extinction in the 1980s, as a result of hunting and egg collection on the nesting beaches in Mexico and accidental capture and drowning in trawling nets in the Gulf.

Special measures were enforced to protect Kemp's ridley turtles and the species is now recovering.

Dr Peter Richardson, biodiversity programme manager for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said the turtles would not survive in British waters.

"We ask people to keep their eyes peeled for stranded turtles during this stormy weather," Dr Richardson said.

"Sometimes freshly stranded turtles can appear dead, but may still be alive and can be rescued. They should not be put back in the sea, as this will definitely kill them.

"Instead, they should be moved away from the water to a sheltered place, preferably in a cardboard box out of draughts, and reported to experts for collection.

"Even if they are obviously dead they should be reported as they can be used for post-mortem research."

Two weeks ago, another Kemp's ridley was discovered on a beach in Carmarthenshire by a woman out walking her dogs.

In December, a Kemp's ridley washed up alive in South West Wales but died shortly after.

A young loggerhead turtle was found dead at Worthing and MCS has also received reports of leatherback turtles' remains on Chesil beach, near Weymouth and Tregantle beach, Cornwall.

In the 1980s, only a few hundred female Kemp's ridleys were recorded emerging at the main nesting beaches.

Since then, strict protection on the beaches has been put in place and the use of special turtle excluder devices in theb Gulf of Mexico shrimp nets has grown.

These measures have contributed to the species recovering, with thousands of females emerging to nest each year.

Anyone who finds a stranded or dead turtle on the beach is asked to report it to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme on 0800 6520333.

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