Endangered Leatherback Turtle Found Dead on P.E.I.
A Leatherback Sea Turtle was found dead by a member of the public in Skinner’s Pond, northwestern Prince Edward Island on September 11, 2020. This was a male turtle, weighing 988 pounds and with an upper shell/carapace length of approximately 5 feet long.
The organizations involved in reporting and the retrieval of this animal included the PEI Department of Fisheries and Communities, the Canadian Sea Turtle Network (CSTN), the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The turtle was transported by officials from Fisheries and Ocean Canada to CWHC Atlantic in nearby Charlottetown for necropsy. The cause of death of this turtle has not been determined at this time.
Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to 7 feet long and can exceed 2,000 pounds. They are listed as endangered on the Species at Risk List in Canada, and are on the Endangered Species List in the United States. In the Atlantic Region, the Canadian Sea Turtle Network is at the forefront of leatherback sea turtle research which involves scientists, commercial fishermen, and coastal community members, who work to conserve endangered sea turtles in Canadian waters and worldwide. Their work has involved using satellite tracking and identifying Atlantic Canada as critical habitat in the leatherback turtle’s migration. Flipper tagging, PIT tagging, satellite telemetry, and DNA analysis has allowed the CSTN to identify the nesting regions from which our leatherbacks originate (~60% from Trinidad; French Guiana and Costa Rica are other major sources). Leatherbacks are 33% heavier in Atlantic Canada compared to the nesting beach and it was discovered that leatherbacks can eat their body weight in jellyfish each day!
CBC Mainstreet, interview with Dr. Megan Jones, CWHC Atlantic:
Leatherback species info source: