Unexpected Turtles

A stranded juvenile loggerhead turtle, washed up in Cardigan Bay in Wales (Photo by Melvin Grey, taken from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2359995-turtles-stranded-on-uk-beaches-after-storms-send-them-off-course/

Dear Readers, there were many things that maybe could have been predicted as climate change takes hold, but I’m not sure that I would have guessed that one of them would have been turtles being washed up on UK shores. But this has been a particularly bad year for strandings – in a normal year, according to the Marine ConservationĀ  Society (MCS), from four to six turtles would typically appear between November and February, but there have been fifteen so far. The leatherback turtle can regularly be seen in UK waters, and is cold adapted, but these are loggerheads and even a rare olive ridley turtle. What appears to be happening is that as storms increase in number and intensity, more and more animals are being plucked from their usual waters in the Caribbean and along the coast of North America, and are being dragged all the way to the south west of the UK, with some animals also travelling as far north as Anglesey.

Most of these turtles are juveniles who aren’t strong enough to fight the currents, and sadly of the fifteen who were stranded, nine were unable to survive the chilly waters and have died. The others were alive, and were taken to wildlife hospitals for rehabilitation – hopefully they’ll be able to be released into warmer waters to continue their lives. It does make me wonder, though, what other animals are going to turn up in the wrong places – after all, we’ve had a walrus in Scarborough, a black-browed albatross in the north east, an American robin in a suburban garden and a whole raft of other unexpected bird species. As the climate changes, and ‘extreme weather events’ become more common, we might be in for a whole lot of surprises.

Thor the walrus in Scarborough (Photo from The Scarborough News)

You can read the whole article here.

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