A big and more and more uncommon kind of sea turtle washed up on P.E.I.’s shores final Friday.
A lifeless leatherback sea turtle was confirmed to have been found in the neighborhood of Fernwood on Might 19, the Division of Fisheries and Oceans stated in an electronic mail to CBC Information.
The DFO responded to some native residents’ name in regards to the turtle, with assist from the Halifax-based Canadian Sea Turtle Community.
Leatherback sea turtles are the world’s largest residing turtles. The species faces world-wide inhabitants decline, and is taken into account to be endangered in Canada.
Kathleen Martin, govt director of the Canadian Sea Turtle Community, stated the turtles are recognized to enter Canadian waters this time of yr to feed on jellyfish.
Then, they head south and instinctively return to the identical seashores the place they hatched to nest – a behaviour referred to as “natal homing.”
“So you find yourself with these seashores stuffed with, like, sisters and aunts and moms and cousins,” Martin stated.
However the found turtle didn’t have an opportunity to fulfill its household.
It’s probably the animal died final yr from being entangled in fishing gear and it’s simply now being discovered, Martin stated.
Tom Sherry was one of many Fernwood residents who found the turtle. When he acquired there, he couldn’t imagine his eyes.
“It was fairly a sight,” he stated.
“It was form of unhappy to see that it was within the water there and had been deceased probably for a short time.”
Two fishery officers from the Alberton Conservation and Safety detachment responded to the sighting, DFO stated.
This isn’t the primary time a leatherback sea turtle washed up P.E.I.’s shore. People who had been discovered earlier than would usually be transported to the Atlantic Veterinary School for a necropsy.
However on this case, the turtle was “too badly decomposed” for wildlife pathologists to carry out any form of process, the AVC stated in an electronic mail.
Martin stated what’s left of the turtle is falling aside, so it’s troublesome to measure it precisely. A leatherback sea turtle can attain as much as two metres lengthy and weigh greater than 450 kilograms, she stated.
The species has been round for greater than 150 million years, again to when dinosaurs walked the planet. In the present day, they’re declining at a charge of virtually 8 per cent a yr, Martin stated.
“They’re in critical decline.”
‘We’re just like the UN of sea turtles up right here’
In Canada, they’re protected below the Species at Threat Act. Martin stated leatherback sea turtles from throughout Central and South America have been recognized in Canadian waters the place they “actually bulk up and eat” earlier than heading dwelling.
“We’re just like the UN of sea turtles up right here, the place everyone comes and hangs out,” Martin stated.
“It’s actually vital that we hold them protected right here … and that we do all of the work we will to find out about them.”
That’s why it’s vital the DFO, the Canadian Sea Turtle Community, the AVC in addition to Nova Scotia’s Marine Animal Response Society all have a hand within the strategy of responding to any specimens present in Atlantic Canada, she stated.
In the intervening time, the turtle — or what’s left of it — remains to be there in Fernwood.
DFO officers had pulled it to shore and eliminated the fishing gear that killed the animal. The gear will probably be returned to whoever misplaced it, Martin stated.
“Sometimes what you do is, at this level, let nature take its course,” Martin stated. “There will likely be issues that scavenge off of that turtle and all the remainder of it.”
Martin stated the decomposing physique doesn’t pose any risk to folks.
She encourages folks to name the Canadian Sea Turtle Community in the event that they see something to do with sea turtles as a result of that may assist wildlife officers deliver the animals in and acquire data that may assist with conservation efforts.
“That’s actually an act of what we name citizen science,” Martin stated.
“That’s what we want on this planet proper now.”