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Rare Turtle Spotted Off Portland Bill

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8:45am 22nd August 2013

A loggerhead turtle's been spotted off the Dorset for the first time since 1938.

Weymouth sailor Jim Davies saw the turtle meters from his boat at Portland Bill last Sunday.

"At one point it surfaced to breathe about 10 metres off the boat, saw me and dived - there have been a lot of jellyfish around lately so I imagine it was feeding on them," says Jim.

Dr Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity Programme Manger, says: "Dead or dying stray juvenile loggerheads are regularly recorded washing up on UK beaches during winter months, but this sighting of an apparently healthy, larger, live animal at sea is of real interest."

Loggerheads are the second most encountered turtle species in the UK, with a total of 220 records in the UK and Eire TURTLE database up to the end of 2012, compared to 1,949 of the more frequently recorded leatherback turtle. Last year 4 loggerheads were reported from our beaches, all dead, whereas 45 leatherbacks were spotted and reported, most of them live.

MCS says recording turtle sightings is really important to understand not only about these enigmatic marine creatures but also about jellyfish, the food they follow here.

Dr Richardson said "The Portland Bill loggerhead may still be in the area, so we urge anyone using the sea there to keep a look out for any turtles and report any they see to MCS – and take a camera, it would be marvellous to get a picture of this exotic visitor!"

MCS says it’s a good idea for people to download the UK Turtle Code to help identify the turtles they see and then report any sightings in the same place:

You can do that HERE.

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