Leatherbacks drown after getting entangled with creel ropes

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 4 November 2014

Leatherbacks drown after getting entangled with creel ropes But tragedy allows scientists to discover more about these majestic animals A post-mortem has been carried out by the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme on a second leatherback turtle found entangled in creel ropes off Dunbar.

Leatherbacks drown after getting entangled with creel ropes But tragedy allows scientists to discover more about these majestic animals A post-mortem has been carried out by the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme on a second leatherback turtle found entangled in creel ropes off Dunbar. Their examination revealed that it died from drowning as a result of becoming entangled in creel equipment. The female, weighing 307kg and measuring about 173cm long, was one of four leatherbacks washed up along the Scottish coastline during October. The post-mortem revealed bruising on the right flipper, head and carapace along with congested and fluid filled lungs, consistent with entanglement and subsequent drowning. The Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme said that although this is totally tragic that these amazing creatures end up like this, often having travelled thousands of miles from the Caribbean, by examining the carcase they were at least able to learn more about this poorly understood species. A small length of polypropylene rope was found in the turtle’s stomach. This fragment of netting was small enough that it didn’t seem to be causing a problem, and it’s really unlikely to have contributed to the animal’s death, but the organisation said it did serve to highlight that ingestion of marine plastic is a ongoing problem in these creatures. They were able to look close up at the oesophageal papillae, to see how they would prevent any regurgitation of ingested debris and the accumulated plastic could cause a number of problems in the gastrointestinal tract, with the end result of decreased digestive efficiency, starvation and in some cases death.

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