Turtle stranded at Southerness

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Tuesday 30th October 2007

A holidaymaker staying near Southerness got more than he bargained for when he came across a dead adult Leatherback Turtle washed ashore on the beach at Gillfoot Bay, Southerness. Damian Banks came across the animal whilst out kayaking with his father and thoughtfully took measurements and photos before reporting the stranding to the DGERC. The animal measured some 1.83m in length (6 feet) and bore deep scars along its left flank. The sighting was reported to Bob Reid at the Scottish Agricultural College in Inverness who maintains a record of sightings and strandings in Scotland. Bob confirmed that the injuries were the result of a propellor, although it was impossible to say if this was done before or after the animal died. The Solway and Irish Sea is a regular location for sightings and strandings of Leatherback Turtles. The animals migrate from their tropical breeding grounds in the Carribean and West Africa and feed on jellyfish in and around our shores. The species is likely to be included as a priority species in the revised Local Biodiversity Action Plan next year. A major project studying these poorly understood creatures in Irish waters is underway - the Irish Sea Leatherback Turtle Project is looking at their diet and has satellite tagged individual turtles to understand more about their migration.
Leatherback Turtle ┬ęDamian Banks