Young loggerhead washed up on Cornish beach is first report of 2012
Widemouth Bay is final resting place for endangered ocean traveller
A small loggerhead turtle discovered dead on a beach near Bude is the first Cornish turtle record of 2012 and could play an important part in finding out more about these long distance ocean travellers says the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
The juvenille loggerhead turtle, listed as an endangered species, was just 26.4cm in length and is the 215th loggerhead turtle on record in UK and Ireland. It was spotted by a couple out walking along Widemouth Bay.
The pair said they found the turtle in perfect condition, upside down on rocks on an afternoon walk on January 9th. The couple reported it to MCS via the UK Turtle Code after the charity urged walkers to get in touch with sightings of dead or alive turtles, after some rare Kemp ridley and green turtles were found on beaches in Wales and Scotland over the Christmas period.
Dr Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity Programme Manager, says these young turtles have been washed in by the recent severe storms: â€œThe ongoing windy weather blowing onto our shores will have generated surface currents in the ocean that will have sucked these small, young turtles from the warmer waters where they live, into our chilly seas. They cannot survive our winter temperatures for long but can sometimes be rescued if reported in time. It is great that these recent turtles were reported and as the windy weather continues, itâ€™s essential that anyone finding stranded turtles on our shores reports them as soon as possible.â€
Of the seven species of marine turtles, loggerheads breed at the most northerly latitudes, with the nearest breeding populations to the UK found in the south eastern USA, the Mediterranean and the Cape Verde Islands. Juvenile loggerheads spend their first few years swimming at the surface of the open ocean feeding on jellyfish, before settling in inshore waters where they use their powerful beaks to eat crabs and other shellfish. When young, loggerheads thrive in warmer waters. They stop feeding when in temperatures below 15oC, and become comatose in waters below 10 oC.
Dr Richardson says itâ€™s really important that sightings are reported: â€œItâ€™s possible more turtles will be washed up in. We would ask people to keep their eyes peeled for stranded turtles. Please donâ€™t throw them back in the sea but get them away from the water in a sheltered place, preferably in a cardboard box out of draughts â€“ stranded turtles can appear dead but may still be alive and can be rescued. However if they have died they are also useful to us for post-mortem research. All the relevant numbers are available on our downloadable UK Turtle Code which you can find on our website at www.mcsuk.orgâ€