Turtle alert for beach walkers

PUBLISHED: 13:47 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 15 June 2010

BEACH walkers in East Devon and West Dorset are being urged to look out for stranded marine turtles after strong winds have blown the reptiles ashore in recent weeks. The Marine Conservation Society has received three reports of stranded turtles in Wales

BEACH walkers in East Devon and West Dorset are being urged to look out for stranded marine turtles after strong winds have blown the reptiles ashore in recent weeks.The Marine Conservation Society has received three reports of stranded turtles in Wales and Scotland since December 29, and says more may appear in Devon and Dorset as strong south-westerly winds batter the coastline."Each winter strong winds seem to blow stray juvenile turtles into our chilly seas. They can't stand the cold weather, which shuts them down and they eventually wash up on our shores," said Peter Richardson, MCS species policy officer."When they wash up they are so moribund that to the casual observer they may appear to be dead, but actually they may still be alive, and with expert care can be rescued and nurtured back to health to make a full recovery. "Under no circumstances should these turtles be put back into the sea, as this will certainly kill them. "With strong winds forecast this week, we urge UK beach walkers to be vigilant and immediately report any turtles they encounter to the RSPCA." Last year, staff at the Weymouth SeaLife Centre successfully rehabilitated two live stranded loggerheads and a Kemp's ridley turtle. The loggerheads were eventually flown to Grand Canaria where they were released back into the Atlantic, but the Kemp's ridley turtle is still at Weymouth and will be flown back to its native waters in the Gulf of Mexico later this year. MCS is urging anyone who walks or works on UK beaches to look out for stranded turtles this winter and immediately report them to the RSPCA on 08705 555999 or to Marine Environmental Monitoring on (01348) 875000. Live turtles should not be put back in the sea, but placed in a dry, sheltered place until animal welfare experts can collect them for rehabilitation.

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