Leatherback find

Busselton Dunsborough Times

A two metre leatherback turtle weighing up to 250kg has washed up dead at Eagle Bay this week and marks one of only a few official records of the species in South West waters.

The Department of Environment and Conservation said there were only seven records of leatherback turtles on the south coasts, though the turtles were known to forage in the area but are rarely sighted.

Blackwood District nature conservation co-ordinator John Carter said leatherback turtles normally inhabited northern tropical waters.

“This turtle probably came this far south in search of food, as it feeds on jellyfish and there are jellyfish blooms off our coast at this time of year,” he said.

“The turtle is probably a juvenile aged between 10 and 20 years, and it looked in good condition and had only recently died, but there are no obvious signs as to the cause of death.”

The turtle was seen by a member of the public and reported to the DEC on Monday morning, and was removed from the beach with a bobcat.

It will be taken to the WA Museum for research purposes.

“It was fascinating to see such a large, beautiful and rare creature on the beach, and though it’s unfortunate that it was dead, there is much to learn about the species from studying this specimen,” Mr Carter said.

Leatherback turtles are the biggest of all living sea turtles, and are listed as vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They are classified as rare fauna under the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

The turtle was removed by bobcat and will be given to the WA Museum.

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