World’s rarest turtle washed ashore
This young turtle was found freshly dead on 9th December, the day after the big storm, and was originally identified as a Loggerhead. However, experts have now re-identified it as Britain’s 36th record of Kemp’s Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). A few days later, a second individual was found on a beach in Ceredigion, West Wales.
Kemp’s Ridley Turtles are a warm water species, and the rarest of the marine turtles. They are considered critically endangered, nesting only on a few beaches in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr Peter Richardson of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says these recent turtle strandings suggest there may be more turtles out there that could wash up on UK beaches. “Our advice isthat under no circumstances should stranded turtlesbe thrown back in the sea. While they may appear to be dead, they may in fact be comatose due to the cold conditions, and can be nursed back to health if immediately rescued and given expert care. If they are dead, it is important that they are collected and stored for post-mortem examination.”
MCS has a produced a UK Turtle Code, which can be downloaded at www.mcsuk.org and gives information on how to identify turtle species found in the UK and who to call if you find one. In addition, all dead or alive stranded turtles should be reported to Marine Environmental Monitoring (MEM) on 01348 875000.
MEM organises the rescue and rehabilitation of live stranded turtles; collection and post-mortem of dead animals and maintains a national database of turtlereports.