Alarming Rise In Death Toll Of Leatherback Turtles On The Central Coast

Sixth turtle found

Article heading image for Alarming Rise In Death Toll Of Leatherback Turtles On The Central Coast

Lara Pratt

The world's largest sea turtles, the leatherback species, are continuing to be found on the Central Coast of NSW.

Adding to the climbing death toll, a sixth leatherback washed on one of the region's beaches this week.

Following the sighting of the endangered species at Forresters beach on Wednesday, there was another leatherback found entangled in a net nearby.

As investigations into both sightings got underway, there remains confusion as to why the rare sightings are all of a sudden becoming common.

According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), five turtles were found between March and April on beaches including Little, North Shelly, Avoca and Birdie.

"This is just unprecedented," Turtle Rescue Central Coast founder, Cathy Gilmore said.

"It's really a mystery as to what's going on."

Authorities believe recent storms and wild conditions could be to blame for the deaths. University of Newcastle's marine ecologist Vincent Raoult spoke on the theory.

"We've had some unusually warm waters coming down as a result of climate change and the strengthening of the East Australian Current in addition to these really big storms," Dr Raoult said.

He said storms could cause sea animals to swim into dangerous places which contain plastic.

"It can be that they've ended up in waters that they're unfamiliar with that are too cold and gotten disoriented," he said.

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23 April 2022

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