Andy Summers, our Highland Council Countryside Ranger reports that this Leatherback Turtle was landed at Lochinver Harbour by local fisherman Bruce Mackenzie on 8th October. It is thought to have drowned after getting caught in creel ropes in Eddrachillis bay, possibly several weeks previously.
Having been towed ashore by Bruce the turtle is now in Inverness with the Scottish Agricultural College vets for a Post Mortem examination. The PM report is due in two weeks time, and will confirm if it is female and adult and if so if she is of breeding age, which commences at the age of 30. Leatherbacks can live up to the age of 100, and this one is 2m long with a carapace measuring 1.5m. They are found naturally in British waters following jellyfish but DNA will confirm the place of birth; possibly the Caribbean (Trinidad/Tobago)
Recent large numbers of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish washed ashore on Assynt’s coast may account for the presence of this specimen.
The last one found in Assynt was also entangled in creel ropes off the Point of Stoer in Oct 1993 and brought ashore by Donald MacLeod, a local from Drumbeg, and its skull is on display in Assynt Visitor Centre.
The main hazards for these creatures are plastic bags and helium balloons mistaken for jellyfish.
This being the rutting season there is a lot of roaring from stags at the moment, often just outside the bedroom window! Kylesku as ever is particularly atmospheric for this annual aural event….