Marine Conservation Society Press Release
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Look Out For Washed Up Turtles
23rd December 2011
Marine charity urges winter coastal walkers to look out for washed up turtles after two rare species found in Scotland and Wales
Itís vital to report both dead and living sightings, says Marine Conservation Society
British beach walkers are being urged to look out for stranded marine turtles over the Christmas holidays after three rare specimens washed up dead on beaches in Scotland and Wales during December.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) wants people to report any turtles found on UK beaches immediately, whether dead or alive. ďItís so important that people know what to do,Ē says Dr Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity Programme Manager and turtle expert. ďDead turtles can be collected for important post-mortem examination, while live turtles can be rescued from a chilly death as long as they are not thrown back in the sea.Ē
The first turtle to strand this month was a young Kempís ridley, found dead at Baugh on the Isle of Tiree in Scotlandís Inner Hebrides. The turtle was discovered after heavy storms in early December.
Kempís ridleys* 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. While the occurrence of Kempís ridleys in the UK is occasional, a recent recovery of the world population has meant an increase in the number of young ones stranding on UK shores. The Tiree turtle was only the 36th of this species on record, but a few days later another young Kempís ridley washed up dead on a beach at Llanon, Ceredigion, West Wales.
An even rarer UK encounter was also recorded in December when a dead green turtle washed up in Newark Bay, on South Ronaldsay in the Orkneys. Green turtles are considered endangered and are another warm water species, occurring mostly in the tropics, although nesting populations of this species are found in temperate Florida and in the Eastern Mediterranean. The South Ronaldsay green turtle is only the 10th green on record in the UK and Eire.
Dr Peter Richardson says these recent turtle strandings suggest there may be more turtles out there that could wash up on UK beaches over the Christmas holidays. ďOur advice is that under no circumstances should stranded turtles be 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.Ē
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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 turtle reports.
UK turtles can also be reported on the MCS Wildlife reporting pages