Wildlife struggles after storms

The giant Leatherback turtle found dead on the shore.
The giant Leatherback turtle found dead on the shore.

The appearance of a dead giant Leatherback turtle on the shore down at St Cyrus Beach has illustrated the struggle animals are having with recent weather conditions.

Therese Alampo, who is the manager and ranger at the St Cyrus Nature Reserve, said the extremely unusual find was in fact only “a little juvenile turtle” who had wandered a long way off the normal route for those of its species.

These turtles are increasingly spending time around the coast of Britain because of warming water temperatures and the swarms of jellyfish they prey on.

She said: “The Scottish Rural College was notified by Simon Ritchie, our student placement, at 9am on Friday; they were prepared to take it for an autopsy to see exactly how it died but there was a big problem getting the body to the buggy for removal.

“We posted on Facebook for willing helpers to manhandle the turtle to a pick up point and 20 volunteers turned up. This was a brilliant community response.

“The corpse was extremely heavy, over 30 stone, but they managed to get it to the vehicle and it went off to Inverness for the post mortem.”

Joseph Hibbs, a St Cyrus local who saw the Facebook page asking for volunteers to help move it, said: “We went down to have a look and help out. When they turned it over onto the tarpaulin it smelt bad, not like fish though, more a sewage smell.”

Another animal caught up in the flooding and bad conditions was a large dog otter found beside the A92 where, according to Therese, it was probably hunting for food or possibly looking for a mate.

She said: “The otters of the North Esk will have had their holts displaced by the high water.

“All animals are finding it hard to hunt for food right now. Even seabirds are struggling as the sea is so rough the fish are impossible to catch forcing the birds inland.

“A large number of Little Auks found dead on the beach are the sad casualties of the rough seas.

“Anyone finding dead animals, such as the otter, should contact NESBReC (North East Scotland Biological Records Centre) who log details of wildlife found to better understand species numbers across Scotland.”

NESBReC can be contacted on 01224 664164.