Beach plea after rare turtles die

Conservationists are urging people to look out for stranded marine turtles after three endangered reptiles recently washed up on beaches.

A rare Kemp’s ridley turtle was washed up alive near Abersoch in Gwynedd the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said.

The small juvenile turtle was recovered by the RSPCA and taken to Weymouth SeaLife Centre where it later died.

Two loggerhead turtles also washed up dead at Ardnave and Ardbeg on the island of Islay in Scotland last month.

MCS’s policy officer Peter Richardson blamed strong winds for the deaths.

“Each winter strong winds seem to blow stray juvenile turtles into our chilly seas.

‘Full recovery’

“They can’t stand the cold weather, which shuts them down and they eventually wash up on our shores,” he said.

“When they wash up they are so moribund that to the casual observer they may appear to be dead, but actually they may still be alive, and with expert care can be rescued and nurtured back to health to make a full recovery.”

Mr Richardson said under “no circumstances” should turtles be put back into the sea, as it would certainly kill them.

“With strong winds forecast this week we urge UK beach walkers to be vigilant and immediately report any turtles they encounter to the RSPCA,” he added.

The strandings started when a juvenile loggerhead turtle washed up dead at Ardnave on the island of Islay on 29 December.

Shortly afterwards the second turtle, another dead juvenile loggerhead, was recovered by staff from the Islay and Jura Seal Sanctuary after it washed up near Ardbeg, Islay on New Year’s Day.

The third turtle, the rare Kemp’s ridley turtle washed up on the Llyn peninsula at Porth Ceiriad on 3 January.

Kemp’s ridley are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union, while the loggerhead turtles are listed as endangered.

The loggerhead turtle is regularly reported in British seas but there are only 35 records of the Kemp’s ridley species in UK and Irish waters.

According to MCS the latest estimates suggest that only a few thousand adult females still nest on only one stretch of beach on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.