More endangered turtles wash up on UK, Irish shores Published: 06 February, 2008
THE Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Marine Environmental Monitoring (MEM) have reported unusually large numbers of turtles being washed up on beaches in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland in the last six weeks.
South-westerly winds are forecast to continue and more turtles are expected to wash up on UK and Irish shores in coming weeks. While stranded turtles may appear to be dead, they may in fact be comatose due to the cold conditions, and can be nursed back to health if rescued and given expert care.
The turtle strandings started in Scotland in late December, when a dead juvenile loggerhead washed up on the shores of Islay. Since then, another 10 turtles have stranded on beaches in Gwynedd and Anglesey in Wales, Argyll in Scotland, Clare, Cork and Wexford in the Republic of Ireland, and in England, including two live loggerhead turtles, one that washed up at Bude, Cornwall on January 26 and another that washed up at Putsborough Beach, North Devon last Saturday.
We anticipate that the prevailing weather and currents will result in more turtles washing up on our shores and we are therefore again asking beach walkers to be vigilant, said MEM Strandings Co-ordinator Rod Penrose.
While many of the turtles reported this year have washed up dead, three have been alive. Under no circumstances should live turtles be put back into the sea here in the UK, as this will kill them. If rescued in time, these animals can be nursed back to health, indeed, eleven out of nineteen live-stranded turtles rescued from UK and Irish beaches in the last decade have been successfully rehabilitated and released back into warmer seas abroad.
In recent years, staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay have successfully rehabilitated several live-stranded turtles, and are now caring for both the live juvenile loggerheads that washed up in Devon and Cornwall. They are responding to treatment and if they make full recoveries, will be flown to a dedicated rescue centre in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, where they will receive further treatment in preparation for eventual release into the warmer Atlantic.
The latest stranding, which was reported last night, was of a dead leatherback that washed up without its head or flippers at Tywyn in Gwynedd, Wales. All dead or alive stranded turtles should be reported to Marine Environmental Monitoring (MEM) on 01348 875 000. MEM organises the rescue and rehabilitation of live stranded turtles; collection and postmortem of dead animals and maintains a national database of turtle reports.
Live stranded turtles can also be reported to the RSPCA on 08705 555 999 (England and Wales), the SSPCA on 0131 339 0111 (Scotland), Environment and Heritage Service on 02870 823 600 (Northern Ireland) or University of Cork 00353 (0)21 4904140 (Republic of Ireland) or to Marine Environmental Monitoring (MEM) on 01348 875 000. Live turtles should not be put back in the sea, but placed in a dry, sheltered place until animal welfare experts can collect them for rehabilitation. Obviously-dead stranded turtles can also be reported to MEM or online at http://www.mcsuk.org/ where information and photographs are available to help identification.
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