A turtle found stranded off the south coast of England by two women out swimming has died.
The injured olive ridley turtle, usually found in much warmer waters, was spotted 20m off Seaford beach in East Sussex on Saturday.
Emma Holter and Lisa Glandfield brought the reptile to shore and saw it had injuries to its face and shell.
It was taken to Brighton Sea Life centre for emergency care but could not be saved.
In a statement, the centre said: “The female turtle presented with a very low body temperature and severe dehydration, as well as some other injuries.
“Despite the very best efforts of our specialist marine biology and veterinary teams, the turtle hasn’t survived.”
The centre said the species was normally found in warmer climates and it was unsure why it was in cold, shallow waters.
Announcing the animal’s death “with great sadness”, it thanked everyone involved in the rescue attempt.
Dr Peter Richardson, head of ocean recovery at the Marine Conservation Society, said a number of juvenile turtles wash up on UK beaches during winter “usually after persistent south-westerly winds that create surface currents that wash them out of the Atlantic and into our chilly seas”.
But this olive ridley is only the second UK record of the species, he said, adding that they “seem to be quite fragile and rarely survive after stranding, even with good rehabilitation”.
Olive ridley turtle
- Has an average life span of 50 years in the wild
- Can weigh up to 100lbs and grow up to about 75cm
- Named after the greenish colour of its skin and shell
- Normally found in warm waters of the southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
- Although widely considered the most abundant of marine turtles, its numbers are declining quickly
- Despite protections, nesting females are slaughtered for their meat and eggs are stolen
- Fishing nets also pose a significant risk, frequently snagging and drowning individuals
Nettie Glandfield was with her mother Lisa when the reptile was brought to shore.
“We thought she may be dead, but every now and then she would make a small movement,” she said.
“The beach was windy, so we wrapped her in a wet towel to keep her a bit warmer, and sheltered, until the vet arrived.
“She wasn’t very big, about the size of a Jack Russell.”
The vulnerable species of turtle was also found in British waters in 2016, off the north coast of Wales.
Nicknamed Menai, she the first such turtle to be reported in UK waters since records began about 200 years ago.
Initially cared for by Anglesey Sea Zoo, she was later flown to Gran Canaria with a view to releasing her back into the wild, but her health deteriorated and she died in January 2018.