Saturday 14 December 2019

Learthback Turtle found on beach in Essex, England.

A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, has been discovered on a beach in Essex, southeast England, this week. The Turtle, which is estimated to weigh about 250 kg, was discovered by a Dog-walker on a beach on Mundon Creek, part of the Blackwater River Estuary System, on the morning of Wednesday 11 December 2019. The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme was called in to investigate the Turtle, and was able to work with the local Coastguard and landowners to recover the body of the animal, for examination at the Natural History Museum in London. Leatherback Turtles are occasionally washed up on the warmer beaches of southwest England and the south coast of Ireland, but have not previously been recorded on the east coast of England, or elsewhere on the North Sea.

The body of a Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, which was recovered on the Essex coast this week. South Woodham Coastguard Rescue Team.

Leatherback Turtles are the larges species of Chelonian (Turtles and Tortoises) alive today. and have a distinctive leathery shell which makes them easy to identify. They are placed in a separate family to all other Turtles, the Dermochelyidae, which has no other living species, but a fossil record dating back to the Late Cretaceous. Modern Leatherback Turtles are found in tropical and warm temperate waters in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as in the southwest Indian Ocean. They are considered to be Vulnerable under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, mostly due to a loss of suitable breeding grounds due to Human encroachment; unlike other Turtle species their flesh is generally considered to oily for consumption by Humans, limiting the impact of hunting on the species, although they are vulnerable to being caught as bycatch in fishing nets and becoming entangled in abandoned fishing gear. Other marine plastics are also a significant risk to the species, as items such as plastic bags can resemble Jellyfish, the main diet of these Turtles.

Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, washed up on a beach in Essex, southeast England, earlier this week. Harwich and Manningtree Standard.

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