is a Reptile?
(for the layman, not the scientist)
An air-breathing, vertebrate animal without hair or feathers, the body usually covered with a scaly impermeable (dry and scaly) skin. Reptiles are cold-blooded which means they get their heat from the outside environment and are torpid in cold weather (in contrast to the warm-blooded mammals and birds, and like the amphibians from which they evolved).
A key feature of reptiles and their descendants is the amniotic "closed egg" shared by mammals and birds, but not by amphibians. (Most mammals have since lost the shell retaining the infant in the body. Mammals also have the mammary gland for feeding their young milk.)
In some lizards and snakes and in some extinct reptiles (e.g., ichthyosaurs) the eggs are retained in the oviducts of the mother, sometimes with a placental connection, and the young are born alive. There are about 6,000 living species of reptiles.
partly from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
If you find a Turtle:
"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."
Peter Richardson said under "no circumstances" should turtles be put back into the sea, as it would certainly kill them. (Thermal cold water shock?)
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 Marine Conservation Society have produced a laminated Turtle Advice Sheet (endorsed by DEFRA). The guide contains reports numbers and advice.
Turtle Code is now online at
5 January 20162015
7 December 2015
A Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, was found dead stranded at Porthmadog in Gwynedd, Wales. The approximately 25 cm long turtle was thought to have possibly initially stranded alive, given its very fresh condition. The body of the turtle was recovered from the beach by Gwynedd Maritime Services and then taken to RSPCA Colwyn Bay for storage prior to pickup and transport for post-mortem examination by the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme UK (CSIP). This is only the ninth record of this inhabitant of tropical seas (including the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea) found in the sea or on the shore around the British Isles.
A Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was washed ashore alive but in a moribund condition on the south-west Scotland shore in Ayrshire. It was moved to Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary (SSLS) in Oban, Argyll and Bute, for recovery and rehabilitation at but died of hypothermia on 9 December 2015. The problem is the seas around the British Isles are too cold for this tropical turtle.
c 20 August 2015
1.5 metre (5 ft) long Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen off St. Bees Head, Cumbria, during assessment work for a new nuclear power station planned to be built in the area.
25 January 2015
A Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was washed ashore alive but in a moribund condition on the shores of County Donegal, Ireland, facing the Atlantic. It was moved to Portaferry "Exploris" Aquarium, County Down, N Ireland for recovery and rehabilitation. The problem is the seas around the British Isles are too cold for this tropical turtle and these reptiles often die of hypothermia.
The carapace is hard like rigid leather, with a slightly 'warty'/bumpy texture. This one had lost it's head and flippers, but retained the ribs and various large joints, and a section of the belly skin.
Subsidiary Comments by Johnny Woodcock
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was beached dead for a long time, consisting of just bony plates* and internal bones, on North Uist, Outer Hebrides. (*The Leatherback does not have a shell like other turtles.)
24 December 2014
21 December 2014
Two young Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, were discovered on the shore near Formby on Merseyside and Cumbria's Walney Island, north-west England on coasts facing the Atlantic Ocean. The critically-endangered turtles usually inhabit the Gulf of Mexico, but may have been "cold-stunned" by a drop in ocean temperatures. These young turtles were still alive but in poor condition.
These endangered turtles breed on the coasts of Mexico and are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico and were thought to have blown across the Atlantic Ocean. The turtles are likely to have suffered in the cold seas and would have succumbed if they had not been rescued.Den Helder Beach.
18 February 2014
After the storms, a most extraordinary discovery of a rare Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, washed up on Saltdean Beach, east Brighton, East Sussex, It was unbelievable as it is both the world's rarest sea turtle and thousands of miles out of its natural range, and unprecedented in the seas off Sussex.
Kemp's Ridley Turtles are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union, with only 35 previous records of the Kemp's Ridley species in UK and Irish waters. According to the Marine Conservation Society 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.
19 January 2014
A juvenile Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was rescued after being washed up alive on Freshwater Beach West in Pembrokeshire, SW Wales. The 17 cm (6.7 in) male turtle was placed in a special quarantine tank at Bristol Aquarium where it is being treated before, hopefully, being returned to warmer Caribbean seas from where it had travelled across the Atlantic Ocean helped by the North Atlantic Gyre (Gulf Stream).
A sub-adult Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was washed ashore dead at Splash Point, Worthing, Sussex in the afternoon. It was a rainy day and I cycled past this point west of the amusement pier, I noted a flock of twenty Crows on the shingle but I did not look down on the syenite rock sea defences or else I might have spotted it. Credit for the discovery goes to Andrew Cole who was photographing a landscape shot of the rocks in poor photographic conditions. This may be the first discovery of a Loggerhead Turtle off Sussex as it was unexpected and I have not got records of a previous discovery. The turtle was damaged with a missing flipper and it had died out at sea and had been washed along until landfall on to this small promontory.
the largest of the turtles (Chelonii).
Adults can attain over 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) in length and 680 kg (1,500
in weight, but they are usually smaller. The largest ever found, however,
was over 3 metres (9.8 ft) from head to tail, including a carapace length
of over 2.2 metres (7.2 ft), and weighed 916 kilograms (2,020 lb).
on sandy beaches in the tropics but they are great travellers and can be
found in the temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world where they
feed almost exclusively on jellyfishes
etc.) captured with delicate scissor-like
teeth. They can also accidentally consume floating plastic
bags which will probably result in their death. Unlike other turtles
its carapace is not a hard shell (exoskeleton),
but is covered by a layer of rubbery skin strengthened by bony bits which
makes it look leathery. The turtle discovered in Falmouth Bay probably
swam across the Atlantic Ocean from a breeding site in Florida
or elsewhere in the Caribbean.
The IUCN classifies the Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, on the Red List as critically endangered.
IUCN Red Listing
4 July 2012
Several fisherman have reported seeing a dead and decaying Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, about a metre and a half long to the east of the island of Herm in the Channel Islands. I do not believe a live individual of this species has ever been reported from the Channel Islands area. Occasional turtles have been seen before though and some of these were definitely Loggerhead Turtles.
9 January 2012
A juvenile 26.4 cm long Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was discovered alive on the rocks at along Widemouth Bay on the north coast of Cornwall. This young ocean traveller was likely to have been washed in by the recent gales. Reports are rare in all months of the year, but especially so in the first months of the year when the sea is too cold for their survival around the British Isles.
December 2011 & 3 January 2012
Two young Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, were discovered on the shore at Tresilian Bay, near Llantwit Major, on the south Wales coast. These young turtles were discovered dead after the gales. These endangered turtles breed on the coasts of Mexico and are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico and were thought to have blown across the Atlantic Ocean. The turtles are likely to have perished in the cold seas.
A Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, was discovered on a beach in South Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands, (ND 463 900) after the recent storms. Unfortunately it was freshly dead, but intact, so its remains were sent to Scottish Agricultural College Veterinary Laboratory at Inverness. The carapace measured 290 mm long by 280 mm wide.
Report and Photographs by John McCutcheon
The Green Turtle inhabits tropical seas including the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea. This turtle is only very rarely recorded in British seas.News Report and Photograph
A 15 cm juvenile Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was rescued after stranding on on Loe Bar, near Porthleven, in Cornwall. It was discovered by by Rose Ledbury from Warwick. The turtle was surrounded by a number of stranded Portuguese Man-o'War, Physalia physalis, one of the Loggerhead's staple foods. The turtle is recovering in a special quarantine unit at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay.
A juvenile Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, washed ashore in the southerly province of Zeeland, near Westenschouwen, Netherlands.
15-22 February 2008
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, seen swimming in the northern Irish Sea off Portaferry, Northern Ireland at the first date was eventually washed up dead. It weighed over 200 kg.
3 February 2008
A dead juvenile Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, beached alive at Putsborough, near Woolacombe, on the north Devon coast. It was rescued from the cold British seas and transferred to the Blue Reef Aquarium at Newquay, Cornwall. To the amazement of the discoverers Diana and Pauline Bussell, a little blue crab crawled out from underneath the dinner plate-sized shell of the turtle. This turned out to the alien hitch-hiker known as the Columbus Crab, Planes minutus, which occasionally gets washed up on the shore with floating driftwood and other pelagic debris. Another Loggerhead Turtle was discovered alive at Widemouth Bay, Cornwall, a few weeks earlier.
3 January 2008
A rare Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, was washed up at Porth Ceiriad on the Llyn peninsula, north-west Wales.
Kemp's Ridley Turtles are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union, with only 35 records of the Kemp's Ridley species in UK and Irish waters. According to the Marine Conservation Society 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.
It is extremely unusual for a turtle up this far east up the English Channel on the northern coast.
11 December 2005
A decomposed Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was discovered on the north Scottish coast by Christine Cormack.
1 August 2005
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was found dead off the coast of Cornwall. It was spotted by a helicopter crew which was carrying out a survey for RNAS Culdrose. The turtle, which is the largest reptile in the world, had become entangled in lobster pot buoy ropes off Botallack, near Lands End. It was towed to shore at Cape Cornwall by the Sennen Inshore Lifeboat.
A group of seven Leatherback Turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, were spotted around the Isles of Scilly, south-west of Cornwall.
2 February 2005
A Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was discovered on Carbis Bay, Cornwall, and because it seemed to be impeded by a parasitic growth, it was taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay.
This Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, measuring over two metres in length was washed up in Luce Bay near Port William, SW Scotland. It was alive when stranded, but it died shortly afterwards.
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was spotted five miles south of Mevagissey off the south coast of Cornwall. This is an unusually early sighting which normally start appearing in UK waters in early summer.
Newquay resident Jo Leach reported the turtle after spotting it while out on her uncle’s crab potting boat.
“My uncle was using his binoculars to look out for the Fin Whales that had been reported over the weekend, when he saw something that he thought looked like a rock breaking the surface”, said Jo Leach, “We approached the object and cut the engines, and when we were about five metres away we could see it was a Leatherback Turtle. It gazed at us for a few minutes and then slowly swam off, as if it had had enough of looking at us!”
Vic Sell discovered a small turtle on Widemouth beach, Cornwall, but it disappeared before it could be identified.
13 January 2003
A live Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, was stranded on the west coast of Guernsey (Channel Islands) in the afternoon. Elliot Green, was playing football with his young son, discovered the turtle on Saline Beach and reported it to the Guernsey Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA). Geoff George and Yvonne Chauvel (in the photograph) collected the turtle, and after it had been treated by veterinarian John Knight, transferred it to the Guernsey Aquarium at St. Peter Port until arrangements can be made to release it into the sea at a suitable location (preferably warm water). This species of turtle inhabits tropical seas including the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea. It is only very rarely recorded in British seas.
The white spots are a species of turtle barnacle, which may have not been recorded before on the British list of marine (barnacle) species (MCS Directory).
Green Turtle found on Guernsey (Photograph © by Richard Lord, Guernsey)
The curved carapace length of the turtle is 75 cm and the curved carapace width is 68 cm. This turtle inhabits tropical seas including the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea. This turtle is only rarely recorded in British seas. There is only one record known to me from near the Thames estuary.
The first record is for Dec 1875, washed up dead in Sussex.
2nd, no month, 1887 Chesil beach Dorset.
3rd, Jan, 1980 Northern Isles of Scotland.
4th, Jul, 1999 off Firth of Forth Scotland.
5th, Dec, 2001 stranded dead at Blackpool.
6th, Feb, 2002 Achmelvich Scotland.
have only just carried out the post-mortem examination on the Green Turtle
from Blackpool, it had fairly large fragments of plastic in its stomach
and had obviously been eating anything it could in desperation.
The largest item in its stomach was a large fragment of blue balloon approx. 10cm x 5cm. The cause of death was starvation.
14 August 2002
Henry Altenberg saw a large Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, over 2 metres in length, six miles off Coverack, Cornwall. It was attacking a large jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus, which it pushed to the surface and threw in the air with a quick flick whilst grabbing a mouthful of 'jelly flesh'.
4 July 2002
Three Leatherback Turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, were found on three separate Cornish beaches alive at Millook Haven, 6 km south of Bude on the north coast, and Perran Sands (SW 7655), with a dead specimen washed up at on the strandline of Watergate Bay, Cornwall.
9 May 2002
With the swarms of jellyfish it is does not come as a surprise that a predatory Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen by Ian and Joy Olford 50 metres from the shore off Polruan, Cornwall (SX 125511). The jellyfish Rhizostoma octopus was seen nearby and jellyfish are the principal diet of these turtles.
Donny Nicolson reported a dead Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, washed ashore on the Dale beach at Walls (west Mainland) in the Shetland Isles. It is decomposed and has probably been there some time although the carcass is still intact. It measured 6ft 4" from nose to tail. It was 7ft across the flippers. There were 7 ribs along its back, and the longest one measured 51" and was 39" across all 7. Approximately 4-5cwt. This is the twelfth recorded find from the Shetlands.
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 13:37:39 -0000
From: "Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit" <email@example.com>
Report by the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit via UK Cetnet
Subject: Leatherback turtle in the Firth of Forth
BDMLR Medics in Scotland spent much of the weekend on the trail of a Leatherback Turtle Dermochelys coriacia in the Firth of Forth. The turtle, measuring some 4-5 feet across, became the focus of a large scale operation which lasted throughout the weekend and continues today into the week ahead.
The reptile was first spotted on Friday afternoon some 30 miles up the Forth river towards the Stirlingshire town of Alloa, very close to the south Alloa jetty. It was soon identified as a Leatherback, the World's largest sea turtle and sole living representative of the family Dermochelyidae. A local SSPCA officer, Brian Calling, was first on the scene, but was unable to reach the turtle who had subsequently become corralled into the deeper waters of the forth by two fishing boats who had taken a passing interest in the unusual visitor.
A search of the area was co-ordinated to try and re-locate the turtle using 3 boats working together to cover a 30 mile stretch of the Firth from Stirling to the Forth Road bridge but to no avail. Whilst this suggested to some that the animal may have made its way back out to the open sea, the turtle could very easily have been missed. Resting turtles, for example, can remain submerged at the bottom of the water column for substantial periods of time, and certainly long enough for a searching boat to pass well overhead. In addition, the entire estuarine area of the firth is HUGE, and even the most systematic search of the area might prove elusive.
Leatherback turtles can attain weights of up to 1.5 tonnes. They are present mostly in August and September off the south and west coasts of Britain and Ireland and off the Shetlands, but this is not the first time the species has been recorded in the Firth of Forth. These turtles undertake extensive migrations to British waters as they follow swarms of jellyfish, the Leatherback's main prey item. We are currently concerned about the food availability for this huge reptile at this time of year and in this location. If we are unable to catch the turtle, it may simply use up its food reserves if it remain trapped in the firth, confused by its unfamiliar new environment.
Scotland teams are equipped and standing by should the turtle reappear.
It was 14 November 2001 before it was discovered and photographed after an extensive and systematic search in small boats.
BDMLR Scotland Co-ordinator
with the Greystoke Foundation
Registered Scottish Charity SC 028400
of the UK Marine Animal Rescue Coalition (MARC)
JNCC Report 310
Bycatch of marine turtles in UK and Irish waters
Publisher: Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Cornish Mailing List
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 19:56:15 +0000
From: Vincent Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: TURTLE AWARENESS GROWS. CORNWALL WT PRESS RELEASE.
TURTLE AWARENESS GROWS.
13 March 2001
The discovery at Holywell Bay today of a young Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, now being looked after by marine experts at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, has highlighted increasing awareness of this area's importance for turtles
Turtles feature prominently in the latest report from Seaquest South-West, the marine recording project being run by the Cornwall and Devon Wildlife Trusts.
This species was last seen in Cornwall in 1949 and only 26 have been sighted in Britain since records began in 1748. One of the Cornish turtles was the largest Kemp's Ridley ever recorded in the UK, with a shell measuring over 60 cm in length. Sadly, this animal was already dead and the other two died despite the efforts of the Blue Reef Aquarium to nurse them back to health.
Strict protection of its beach nesting sites in Mexico has resulted in rapid population growth for this highly endangered creature, which may be one of the reason why we are seeing these turtles more often, but the situation may be more complex as Philippa describes:
is possible that the change in the environment caused by global warming
may have initiated changes to the oceanic currents on which these animals
travel and feed, or it may be that the concerted conservation effort has
created sufficient population pressure that individuals or indeed groups
are cast out in search of new areas to feed and breed. It has been suggested
that it may just be that every population has a number of aberrant individuals
that make this journey, as an evolutionary mechanism for colonising new
areas, and that as the population increases this percentage represents
more individuals. It may even be that these animals are often near our
shores but only get washed up or spotted when we have large storms with
onshore winds. It is highly likely that the answer is found in a combination
of some of these factors."
By comparison, the huge Leatherback Turtle is almost a common sight in Cornish waters, with Colin Speedie of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust describing the behaviour of three such creatures on just one trip from the Scillies to Cornwall last summer.
According to the Trust's Education and Publicity Manager Mark Nicholson, this is further evidence that the leatherback is a significant part of the South-West's wildlife:
"These incredible creatures, often growing to over two metres in length, breed on tropical beaches but deliberately migrate thousands of miles to feed on the abundance of jellyfish supported by our cold waters. One of our first steps towards conserving them has been to make people aware that they are part of this area's wildlife. What's more, we think they must be present in quite large numbers if we can see them so regularly, bearing in mind the vastness of the sea, the fact that they spend most of their time submerged or partially submerged and the difficulty in spotting what little pokes above the surface when the sea is not totally calm."
The Cornwall and Devon Trusts are keen to increase their knowledge of Leatherbacks, both through sightings reported to Seaquest and through the development of radio-tracking and other research projects in co-operation with the Marine Conservation Society and others.
Local and global threats
While the South-West's Leatherbacks are thought to derive mainly from breeding sites in Central and South America, others hatch out in Africa and South-East Asia. Cornish student Denise Hooper gained an insight into the problems faced by turtles in their nesting areas when she visited Malaysia last summer to carry out a research project. There she discovered that harassment of nesting turtles by exploitative tourist businesses had driven the creatures away from some areas, leading to the collapse of the local economy, and she was struck by the parallels with the South-West:
"Tourism was the primary industry in Rantau Abang, with the turtles as the main resource. This irresponsible exploitation has almost eliminated that resource and the economy is suffering greatly. There is currently a problem with harassment of marine life in the South-West and people need to learn a lesson from examples like Rantau Abang to prevent it happening here. Marine life is a very important tourist attraction and we need to ensure that it is not scared away."
While many of the threats to Leatherbacks, such as damaging and disturbing nesting beaches or taking eggs and adult turtles for food, relate to the tropics, the Trusts point out that there is much to be done to make our own waters safer for turtle populations, as Mark Nicholson explains:
"We have to continue to monitor fishing methods, for example, as some are much more dangerous to turtles than others. The problem of oil pollution also affects turtles and all other marine life both at home and abroad. Another global problem which particularly affects Leatherbacks is that of marine debris. The creatures often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and end up dying a slow and painful death due to blockage of their guts."
For further information on turtles and Seaquest, call the Cornwall Wildlife Trust on (01872) 273939.
Wildlife Trust: http://www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/cornwall
A live Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was taken to New Quay Sea-Life Centre after being washed up on Fistral Beach, Cornwall in a very poor condition. It died the following day.
by Rod Penrose via the Vince
Smith's One-List/Cornish Wildlife.
Strandings Co-ordinator (Wales)
Marine Environmental Monitoring.
Collaborative UK & Celtic Marine Mammal Project.
British Marine Turtle Stranding Network.
Tel: 01239 682405
International: +44 1239 682405
World Wide Web: http://www.strandings.com
The tenth live Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, in Shetland waters was found tangled in creel ropes in Basta Voe (Yell) during the afternoon. Despite attempts to free it unharmed the animal was so badly caught it had to be brought ashore to be released.
Once ashore and untangled it became torpid and appeared unable to return to the sea. It was therefore taken to the Wildlife Sanctuary at Hillswick for rehabilitation where, even after an examination by a vet and treatment for abrasions from the creel ropes, it eventually died.
Pictures and the full story are at http://www.wildlife.shetland.co.uk/news/cetnews.html
Another Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was spotted by John Garden, two miles north of Whitehills, Banff, chomping on a Lion's Mane Jellyfish, but dived after being spotted by the crew of the crabber 'Roseanne'. It was approx. 150 cm (5 ft) long and (3 ft) wide.
17 September 2000
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen by James Wiseman three miles north of Hopeman in the Moray Firth. It was about 2.5 metres long. Although occasionally seen off the Cornish coast in the summer and autumn, they are much rarer off north-eastern Scotland.
Hi, Six+ Leatherback Turtles were seen from the Scillonian (Ferry from Penzance, cornwall to the Isles of Scilly) pelagic. Turtles are reported from off Cornwall during the summer and autumn.
from 1989 to 1999 ore recorded by Ray Dennis.
Cornish Marine Wildlife Reports 1999 (by Ray Dennis)
More information on turtles from Cornwall can be found on Vince Smith's One-List/Cornish Wildlife.
There is a search facility to find all the records.
A large (2 metres long) Leatherback turtle has just been reported by Brixham Coastguards. It was sighted a quarter mile off Start Point, Devon this afternoon.
This is the third one in ten days - the first was off the Runnelstone (rescued by fishermen as reported to the group by Ray Dennis), the second was about 12 miles due south of Plymouth (brought to Doug Herdson of the National Marine Aquarium - unfortunately drowned). Number three seemed to have no problems, and may it remain trouble-free.
A large Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was discovered dead, entangled in the nets of a fishing boat off Plymouth in the English Channel. The turtle was nearly 2 metres in the length and the turtle was estimated to weigh about 150 kg (300-400 lb).
Leathery Turtle – 29th June 2000-07-03
Late afternoon of Thursday 29th June, the F.V. Our Louise (Skipper Rod Townsend) found that their bottom set net had been dragged almost half a mile from its original position. The position was approximately 12 miles due south of Plymouth. On hauling the net a large turtle was found just below the surface entangled in the dan line going down to the net which was in 45 metres of water. When brought aboard it was found to be dead. It was brought in to Plymouth Fish market where it was photographed and examined by National Marine Aquarium staff (and later by the local press). It was subsequently taken by a fisherman and a local artist who will attempt to cast a model from it.
The animal generally appeared to have been in excellent condition with no scarring or epizooites. The only injuries were a small wound to the top of the head and some slight grazing of the carapace presumably from manhandling it aboard the vessel.
It was a uniform greenish black except for a pale pinkish area with black spots below the chin, on the neck and upper chest.
Total length 176 cm
Carapace length 137.5 cm
Head (to rear of skull) 29 cm
Front flipper (left, angle to tip) 84 cm
Rear flipper 40.5 cm
Tail 14 cm
I should welcome any opinions as to the age and sex of this specimen from those with experience of this species.
Doug Herdson, 3.7.2000
Report by Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth)
A report has been received of a Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, stranded alive in Wales, UK. It is currently being held in St. David's Oceanarium in Wales while arrangements are made for its return to Mexico. This turtle has only one wild breeding site in the Gulf of Mexico.
A young 30 cm long (one foot) baby Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, weighing 3 kg (6.6 lb), was discovered on a beach on Denmark's west coast by a nature warden and sent to Copenhagen Aquarium.
Loggerhead turtles, one of several endangered species of turtle, measure up to 110 cms (3.5 ft) and can weigh some 70 kg (154 lb) when fully grown.
from Reuters Planet Ark
Nigel Hunter discovered a Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, decomposing on Newborough beach on the Isle of Anglesey. The turtle was nearly 2 metres long and nearly a metre (90 cm) wide.
There is an island at Newborough which gets cut off from the mainland at high tide. It was on this section of beach. I was on holiday for the weekend on Anglesey Wales.
I live in Littleborough, Lancashire.
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, weighing 500 kg* was discovered alive but in a poor condition one mile off Roker, Sunderland, in the north-east of England. It was captured but died shortly afterwards. The turtle measured 2.1 metres (7 ft) long and 1.5 metres (5 ft) wide. Turtles feed on jellyfishes and the abundance of jellyfishes is thought to be the reason for its occurrence. (* the original report estimated the weight at 750 kg)
Jellyfish (NE England) Link
8 August 1999
ALeatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen swimming in the sea off the southern end of Bressay (between the Ord and the Bard) in the Shetland Islands by John Tulloch this evening. It is the only the ninth live individual to be seen in Shetland waters and was estimated to be around 150 cm (5 feet) in length.
On 2 September 1999, a large turtle, estimated to be about 1 metre in length and was reported in Bluemull Sound, between Yell and Unst, in the Shetland Isles, by the crew of the Fetlar ferry.
Shetland Wildlife News Web Site (more information and a photograph)
Ryan Williams and Brett Jose (Cadgwith, Cornwall) spotted a 120 cm long Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, poke his head out of the water whilst they were fishing off Church Cove on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. A Newlyn fishermen also spotted one near the Isles of Scilly .
My friends Tony Clancy and Steve Connor found a dead Leatherback Turtle washed up on Aveley Bay, Rainham, East London on the weekend of 28/29 November 1998, after which it was taken away for a postmortem.
The report indicates that
the turtle was first seen in bad health about 2 miles east of the Queen
Elizabeth Bridge/Dartford River Crossing on 26 October (the report later
gives this date incorrectly as 26 November), and what was assumed to be
the same turtle was found dead 27 days later at Tilbury on 22 November.
The turtle had a large gash thought to have been caused by a propeller, and the postmortem found a 11mm x 75mm fragment of plastic at the entrance to its stomach.
The paper includes an interesting discussion of this rare event, and covers ecology, other east coast records, possibilities for rehabilitation of stricken turtles, recommendations for dealing with stricken turtles etc.
A male Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is landed by an Isle of Skye fisherman in Aros Bay, Uig. It is over 2 metres long.
"While gathering seaweed at La Mare slip yesterday, Mr J.P. Le Tourneur was surprised to find a queer looking creature moving about his load of vraic (seaweed).
This proved to be a turtle, and very much alive too! He took the reptile home and contacted Mr. Baal, the well known naturalist, who immediately recognized it as a Hawksbill Turtle, Chelona imbricata. Local appearances of turtles are very rare and are probably due to freak weather conditions."
Vraic collecting has gone on for centuries in Jersey, and vraic was once used as a fuel. Time past on the outlying reefs it would be gathered and burnt the ashes being sold as fertiliser. At present the government pays for the collection of vraic washed up, for use as a fertiliser on local fields.
Marine Heritage Page
On the subject of turtles,
there is a good paper on marine turtle strandings around the UK, over the
period 1992-1996 if anyone is interested.
It was published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK in 1998.
Godley, B.J. et al. (1998) Patterns of marine turtle mortality in British waters (1992-1996) with reference of tissue contaminant levels.
From: "Nick Tregenza" <email@example.com>
Subject: Turtles out in the cold
Turtles, at least, have deep body temperatures well above ambient
and range up to the Arctic circle. They are seen swimming, as happy as
usual, in Cornish waters even in winter! There's more on
http://www.chelonia.demon.co.uk/leatherback.html about leatherbacks in Cornwall.
From: "Dave Thomas" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Re Turtle articles.
No one yet as mentioned Roger Penhallurick's book 'Turtles off Cornwall, The Isles of Scilly and Devonshire" pub 1990.
The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists standardised the common names of the reptiles found in the United States, assigning "turtle" to all of those with a shell. The name "tortoise" is employed secondarily for the slow-moving terrestrial species in the family Testudinidae, including the Common European Tortoise, Testudo graeca, and the giant Galápagos species.
Terrapin: any aquatic
turtle of the family Emydidae (but other chelonians may be called terrapins).
European Terrapins will not breed in Britain (although species may be released).
European Pond Terrapin, Emys orbicularis
Stripe-necked Terrapin, Mauremys caspica.
Turtle sightings Official
England (Turtles): 0171 938 9292
Scotland (Turtles): 0131 4472 444
British Marine Life Study Society “Shorewatch” 01273 465433
Turtles and Tortoises of the World, by David Alderton (Blandford 1988) ISBN 0 7137 1970 2
Encylopaedia Britannica: Integumentary Systems in Reptiles.
The Reign of the Reptiles, by Michael J Benton (Kingfisher 1990) ISBN 0 862272 640 9
Send an email message to LISTSERV@lists.ufl.edu
with the one-line message
SUBSCRIBE CTURTLE (your first name) (your last name)
2. To post information to all subscribers on the list,
send an email message to CTURTLE@lists.ufl.edu
from Vince Smith's One-List/Cornish Wildlife
Send a message to the list at: CornishWildlife@onelist.com
Laist, D.W. 1997. Impacts
of marine debris: entanglement of marine life in marine debris including
a comprehensive list of species with entanglement and ingestion records.
In "Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts and Solutions".
(J.M. Coe and D.B. Rogers, eds) Springer-Verlag, NY.
>From: Philip Koloi <p.koloi@GBRMPA.GOV.AU>
Balazs, G. H. 1990. Ecological aspects of marine turtles impacted by ocean debris: A 1989 perspective. [Abstract] In R. S. Shomura and M. L. Godfrey (eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Marine Debris, April 2-7, 1989, Honolulu, Hawaii, p. 718. U.S. Dep. Commer. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFSC
That was my first exposure to the problem and I highly recommend it. If you can't lay your hands on it, try searching for 'marine debris' in the Sea Turtle Online Bibliography starting at:
\_ / /// / /// / // / / Peter Bennett, Mississauga, Ontario
<:-(_ )~ VISIT TURTLE TRAX http://www.turtles.org
\ \ \\ \ \ \\ \ \ \\\ \ EMail: email@example.com
Drs. B.J. Godley & A.C. Broderick
Marine Turtle Research Group
University of Wales, Swansea
Swansea, SA2 8PP, UK
44 1792 205678 ext 4411
Fax: 00 44 1786 44 55 99
I'm compiling a table of information on satellite transmitter attachment methods for hard-shelled sea turtles. If you are willing to share your information please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) the following information for each transmitter you have used. Everyone will be acknowledged for their contribution. Thanks for your help.
1. Species the transmitter
was attached to
2. Approximate age class/size of your turtle (juvenile, sub-adult, adult)
3. Attachment method (e.g. epoxy, resin, etc.)
4. Transmitter longevity/duration
5. Information regarding the final fate of the transmitter (e.g. unknown, retrieved, etc.)
Pamela Plotkin, Ph.D.
Senior Conservation Scientist
Center for Marine Conservation
1725 DeSales Street, NW #600
Washington, D.C. 20036
phone: 202-429-5609 ext. 673