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Rare leatherback turtle chomps jellyfish in Falmouth Bay: PICTURES
12:00pm Wednesday 11th September 2013 in Cornwall
Wildlife watchers in Falmouth Bay were treated to a rare sight last week, a giant leatherback turtle plodding through the water hunting for jellyfish.
The turtle species is the largest in the oceans with the one spotted measuring close to four feet in diameter and six feet in length.
The pictures were taken by Laura Richardson on a trip out with AK Wildlife Cruises on board the Free Spirit on September 4 and by staff from Orca Sea Safaris onboard Seaquest.
Amanda, from AK Wildlife Cruises said: “We have had an incredible amount of wildlife over the last two weeks; we just wish the summer was longer.”
Caroline from Orca said: “What an incredible sight in our waters, the sea state was like a mirror, from a distance we were expecting an encounter with a Basking Shark. To our amazement the Leatherback Turtle surfaced.
Its shell was at least two metres. It spent some time swimming gracefully alongside Seaquest of Falmouth feeding on the abundance of jellyfish. A breathtaking experience for all onboard."
The rare sighting in the wild was described as an “enormous privilege” by Matt Slater, the marine awareness officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
“It is very exciting when we get a sighting.
There are only a few sighted each year and there have not been any in this area, they are normally seen off Land's End of the Isles of Scilly.
“They are brought in by their food source, jelly fish, and the warmer temperatures at this time of year.”
He added that they are unique in that they can raise their own body temperatures, allowing them to hunt in colder water, making them the only sea turtle off the UK coast. Leatherbacks are the largest of all living turtles and can be easily distinguished from other sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh.
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