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Critically-endangered leatherback turtle washes up dead on beach

The 1.5 metre-long turtle was found at the St Cyrus Nature Reserve on Friday morning.

Leatherback: Turtle found dead on Scottish beach. <strong>Scott Dickson</strong>
Leatherback: Turtle found dead on Scottish beach. Scott Dickson

A critically-endangered leatherback turtle has washed up dead on an Aberdeenshire beach.

The 1.5 metre-long reptile was found at the St Cyrus Nature Reserve on Friday morning.

Leatherback turtles are a rare sight in the north east and are often spotted in the waters around Orkney and the Western Isles.

Volunteers alerted experts at the Scotland’s Rural College and used a quad bike to remove the turtle from the beach on Friday afternoon.

A number of sea animals have been found dead on Scotland’s coastline in the wake of Storm Frank, but it is unclear how the turtle died.

Three leatherbacks were found dead on the west coast last year, including one found tangled in creel ropes near Drumbeg. They were the first to wash up in Scotland since 2009.

Leatherbacks are the largest marine turtles and one of the largest living reptiles, capable of weighing up to 80 stone and measuring 1.8 metres long.

Pacific leatherback populations have declined dramatically over the last 20 years and some experts believe as few as 2300 adult females now remain.

Atlantic populations have remained more stable but are expected to fall in future due to large numbers being accidentally killed by fishing fleets.


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