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Dead turtle prompts information gathering exercise

The first loggerhead turtle of the year to wash up dead on our shores arrived over the long Easter weekend, with Marine Biologist Lewis Stagnetto from the Nautilus Project on the scene as soon as a call came in.

Based on the shell measurements taken by Mr Stagnetto of 66cm the Loggerhead was a young adult.

At 9am last Friday, Mr Stagnetto took a call advising him that a Loggerhead turtle had washed up onshore at Western Beach.

“Due to the high state of decomposition the turtle had been dead a good while before washing up at Western Beach,” said Mr Stagnetto.

“Therefore, in this case, it was not possible for the Department of the Environment to perform a proper autopsy and determine cause of death or sex,” he added.

The Loggerhead turtle’s front right flipper was severed, its skull highly exposed and was highly decomposed.

Lotterhead turtle (2)

Last year, approximately four loggerheads washed up along the Gibraltar coastline.

This year, “this is the first case but judging from previous years we would expect further occurrences,” said Mr Stagnetto.

“The Nautilus Project in conjunction with the Department Of the Environment will continue to work together to gather any information of all marine animals washing up on our shores in order to determine any actions that must be taken to protect them,” he added.

On the other side of the world, in Australia, a zoo has released a video showing a pile of plastic next to a baby turtle that had ingested it.

Taking to Twitter, the Perth Zoo tweeted with a short video, “A reminder to reduce your use of plastic and dispose of it responsibly: Think of this endangered Loggerhead Turtle our vets have been treating. It was rescued by @WAParksWildlife & came to us for medical care, the poor turtle has been pooping out plastic ingested from the ocean.”

Lotterhead turtle (1)

Zoo staff filmed the turtle next to a pile of the plastic it excreted.

The baby turtle is thought to be less than a year old. There are six species of marine turtle in Australian waters and according to Perth Zoo, all have suffered population declines as a result of pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, plastic bag ingestion, depletion of food stocks, boat-related injuries, loss of shoreline breeding areas and egg predation by species such as foxes and dogs.

Marine turtles are recognised internationally as a species of conservation concern and are listed in the World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Animals.

Loggerhead turtles are considered endangered in Australia.

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