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03rd Nov 2023

Giant endangered turtle found washed up on Wexford beach

Fiona Frawley

endangered turtle wexford beach

The huge sea turtle was discovered by walkers on Curracloe Beach.

Walkers on Wexford’s Curracloe Beach were astounded to discover a giant and extremely rare turtle washed up on the sandy shore.

As reported by the Independent, the Leatherback sea turtle was sadly deceased at the time of its discovery.

As per the World Wildlife Organisation, Leatherbacks are the largest species of sea turtle and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Although their distribution is wide, the number of Leatherbacks has significantly declined over the last century due to intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch – the incidental capture of species that fisheries do not want, but who often become hooked or entangled in fishing gear.

The Leatherback is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a Vulnerable species, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic) are Critically Endangered. They are the largest of all living turtles and are known to measure up to 1.8 metres (5ft 11) and weigh up to 920kg.

The discovery of the Leatherback was documented by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who collected DNA from the turtle to find out more about the creature and how it ended up on the beach. Currently, the cause of death is unclear.

Speaking to the Independent, local Wexford naturalist Jim Hurley said Leatherbacks have turned up along the Wexford coast in the past to feed on jellyfish.

“One major problem is that they can sometimes mistake plastic bags for jellyfish,” Hurley said. “They swallow the plastic bag and end up choking. It’s awful that such a big animal can live such a long life only to end up choking on someone’s rubbish.”

Header image via Getty 


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