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Rare juvenile leatherback turtle found dead off Gozo coast

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Rare juvenile leatherback turtle found dead off Gozo coastNature Trust Malta has said that a female, juvenile leatherback turtle, weighing 190kg, was found dead yesterday off the coast at Qala, Gozo.

NTM said that the cause of death was a massive infection, which was probably caused by plastic ingestion that blocked the digestive system. She was also entangled in a drift net that also caused damage to the muscles of one of the front flippers.

These are the largest sea turtle species and are considered vulnerable across the globe by the International Union by the Conservation of Nature and are very rare in the Mediterranean. The scientific name is Dermochelys coriacea.

Nature Trust Malta gave thanks to Marcelle for reporting the sighting, Mario, David and Jacques from the NTM Wildlife Rescue Team for their assistance, Dr Gruppetta for the necropsy, the ERA, Armed Forces of Malta (AFM), Transport Malta, Civil Protection Malta, the Cleansing Department, Wasteserv and Bubbles Dive Centre. The University of Malta was also present for the necropsy.

Another leatherback turtle was found dead in Cirkewwa in July 2015 and was also found to have ingested plastic debris, NTM said.

NT-FEE Malta is planning to start a campaign related to plastic later on this year

Photographs: David Hayler-Montague of Bubbles Dive Centre, and Nature Trust Malta

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