Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is asking members of the public to report sightings of any turtles washed up on Dorset beaches as a matter of urgency following the discovery of four turtles in just nine days, including the rare Kemp’s Ridley turtle.
On 23 December a live Loggerhead turtle was found near Worth Matravers in Dorset, which had to be put to sleep due to its injuries. Since then, three critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley turtles, the rarest of all turtles, have been found dead by beach walkers at West Bay, West Bexington and Kimmeridge.
DWT Marine Awareness Officer, Julie Hatcher said, “The winter storms have been tough on wildlife living in the sea. Hard-shelled turtles live in tropical seas, but if they get picked up in a strong ocean current such as the gulf stream, and end up in cold northern waters they can’t survive for long because their metabolism slows down and they stop feeding. The public can help by reporting any sightings, alive or dead, so we can arrange a rescue, or recovery and post mortem to help us learn more about the threats to these animals in our oceans.”
The storms have also led to a colony of tropical sea snails living on a fishing buoy being discovered for the first time in Dorset, exotic plant seeds (sea beans) such as the sea heart, Columbus crabs and ‘by-the-wind sailors’ being washed up.
Julie added, “Whilst some marine animals aren’t faring well from the recent weather, we are also seeing some really interesting wildlife being washed up on Dorset beaches. The sea snails were a fascinating find and shows how species can travel from one continent to another via floating debris. The sea heart is a large seed from a tropical vine that can survive floating in the ocean for 17 years or more and is still able to germinate if it lands on a suitable beach!”
To report sightings of turtles dead or alive, please phone Rod Penrose on 01239 683033 (24 hours) as soon as possible. For other sightings phone 01929 481044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share your photos with DWT on social media via facebook/dorsetwildlife or Twitter, @DorsetWildlife.