Recently, a giant Pacific leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) washed up dead off the central Visayas island of Leyte, in the Philippines.
The endangered leatherback sea turtle is one of earth’s oldest species, and the largest reptile living on our planet.
It is sad to see, especially as leatherback turtle populations — along with many other types of sea turtles — have dramatically declined over the last 2 decades. These turtles play an important role in thinning out jellyfish populations, and balancing our ocean’s ecosystem.
Hopefully, it died of old age or natural causes, and not because of accidentally ingesting plastic items and bags floating in our oceans — which it mistakes for jellyfish.
This turtle was estimated to weigh 600 kilos (1,323 lbs).
For more on these amazing creatures, please view my post: Monterey Bay and our connection to endangered leatherback sea turtles.
Last Friday, a 700 lb, leatherback turtle was also found near Monterey, California. Link to photo of the turtle (and video footage) from local news provider, KTVU.com here. Excerpt:
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found at 3 p.m. that the turtle likely died from natural causes. Officials transported the heavy sea animal to a marine research facility in Santa Cruz.
These turtles nests in Indonesia, then migrate all the way to Monterey Bay and other parts of the U.S. West Coast. They take this 6,000 mile journey to feed on abundant jellyfish in our waters.
An article on the website BayNature.org indicated that Pacific leatherback turtles have been spotted in the coastal waters off central California — first in Monterey Bay, then by Santa Cruz, and then in Half Moon Bay. The leatherbacks arrived earlier this year (compared to previous years), and so far, there have been 17 sightings, compared to a total of 23 sightings for all last year. The article states that there is a lot of food for them here, and that in July, marine biologists reported the most abundant and dense jellyfish bloom seen in years.
If you reading this from the Philippines and have more information on the leatherback turtle that washed up off the Leyte coast, please comment. Thank you. – Lola Jane