Welsh beachgoers amazed as rarest turtle in the world washes up

GMB: Ben and Kate laugh at turtle with camera on its back

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A turtle found washed up on a Welsh beach this week was one of the rarest marine turtles in the world, according to an expert. On Wednesday a dead juvenile Kemp’s Ridley turtle was found washed up on Marros Sands in Carmarthenshire.

Meanwhile, in North Wales on Thursday a live juvenile loggerhead was found on a beach.

Local expert, Rod Penrose, warned that the turtles may appear to be dead but “could still be alive as they become cold-stunned in UK waters”.

Mr Penrose from Cardigan in west Wales is the British and Irish ‘TURTLE’ database manager for Marine Environmental Monitoring.

He warned people to look out of the creatured during their visits to Welsh beaches over the next few days and weeks.

He said: “The vast majority of the hard-shell species we get stranded on the UK coast are juvenile (dinner plate size) loggerheads or adult loggerheads that are compromised in some way (loss of flipper).

“I’m presuming these small turtles or compromised turtles struggle to fight against storm currents and strong winds and get swept off the east coast of the US and into the North Atlantic Gyre.

“Probably a return ticket eventually if they are lucky and stay in the Gyre, the unlucky ones get here to meet a south-westerly storm which sweeps them out of the Gyre and into our cold waters where they shut-down becoming cold-stunned.”

Mr Penrose added that, although the turtles might appear to be dead, a gentle touch to the eye can “sometimes gain a response”.

He also warned that it was essential not to put the turtles back in the sea due to the cold British maritime temperatures.

He said: “The worst thing you can do is to put these turtles back in the sea as they will not be able to cope with our UK temperatures and will eventually die.”

The Kemp’s Ridley turtle found on Wednesday at Marros Sands is the rarest marine turtle in the world.

At one point it was reduced to breeding on one beach in Mexico.

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However, eggs have now been moved to other nearby beaches in order to give the species a future.

It is believed that the turtle had only recently passed away after it was found by a member of the public.

The carcass was recovered by Marine Environmental Monitoring (MEM) and is set to be delivered to the Zoological Society of London for a full post-mortem examination.

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