Stranding of a dead Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle
|Keywords||turtle, marine ecosystems|
The storms of the past few days resulted in some special strandings including a dead small turtle. The animal, a very fresh Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), was found by an alert beachcomber on the beach of Koksijde. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the smallest and most endangered sea turtle species in the world, normally living in the Gulf of Mexico and strandings are extremely rare in Europe. The young animal had a carapace length of 25 cm. It takes about 1,5 to 2 years (up to 4 years) for these turtles to grow to a shield length of 20 cm. The carapace of an adult Kemp’s ridley sea turtle can measure up to a length of 65 cm. Most strandings in the northern part of Europe are of young animals that are adrift, and most strandings occur in autumn and winter. When it is too cold, at a temperature of 13° C, the animals become inactive and then they float; when the cold period lasts too long they die. This is the first stranding of a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle on the Belgian coast. On Dutch beaches a total of five specimens have stranded in the past, the last one on December 12, 2011 when a live specimen stranded on the beach of Monster (South Holland). In Le Touquet (France) another specimen has been found on 4 January 2012.