08 September 2005

UK: Rare giant turtle spotted off Britain's East Coast

Rare giant turtle spotted off Britain's East Coast - Photo: Mike DainesThe sighting of a 1.83m-long leatherback turtle off the Suffolk coast last week has excited marine conservationists. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said the world's largest turtle is rarely seen in colder waters away from the Gulf Stream.

Teacher Peter May, from Brighton, spotted the turtle off Corton near Lowestoft during the August Bank Holiday. He said he thought it was a human body until it moved.

"It is quite unusual for the leatherback to be there," said MCS species policy officer Peter Richardson. "There are usually sightings of the leatherback off the West Coast every year as they come to feed on jellyfish. We do not yet have enough information to decide if warmer sea temperatures are a contributory factor but we believe these have had an influence."

Around 40 of the world's largest sea turtles are spotted off the West Coast of Britain every year. Leatherbacks are found in Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans and are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Red List.

Source: www.divemagazine.co.uk


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