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Tragedy of rare turtles swept to a chilly death off Britain


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By Tamara Cohen

Three of the rarest turtles in the world have washed up on British beaches.
They were dragged thousands of miles from their normal habitats in warmer waters by stormy weather.
The two young Kemp’s ridleys and one green turtle died because of the cold after being blasted off course by massive currents during storms in Scotland earlier this month.

Rare: One of the young Kemp's Ridleys which was found washed up on British beaches - because massive currents were caused by storms in Scotland earlier this month

The Marine Conservation Society has warned more are likely to be discovered over Christmas and the New Year and urged the public not to put them back into the water.
While the first three have died, any others may just appear dead because the effect of the cold water initially puts them into a type of coma and they could be nursed back to health by experts.
The first young turtle discovered after the heavy storms two weeks ago – which saw power cuts and a wind turbine set on fire – was a young Kemp’s ridley, one of the smallest species of marine turtles.
The critically endangered warm water turtles nest on just a few beaches around the Gulf of Mexico. The turtle pictured above was found dead on the Isle of Tiree, in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.
A few days later another washed up dead on a beach at Llanon, in West Wales. It was only the 37th seen on UK shores since records began in 1740.

Storm victim: The green turtle found dead in Orkney

Then a green turtle – believed to have been blown off course from warmer waters near the Azores – was found dead on a beach in the Orkney Islands. It is believed to have been washed up alive, but died later.
Green turtles are also endangered and live mostly in the tropics, although nesting populations are found in Florida and in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Both kinds of turtle normally live in water warmer than 20c.
Dr Peter Richardson, biodiversity manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: ‘They shouldn’t be here but when we get heavy weather like we did this month – with some hurricane-type winds in the North – they get blown in.
‘Once they are in the cold waters they do not function very well and they can’t swim against the currents.’


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