Two more rare turtles wash up on the Dutch coast

The turtle covered in mussels. Photo: Reddingsteam Zeedieren

Two rare loggerhead turtles washed up on the Dutch coast on Saturday, one on the Dishoek beach near Vlissingen and the second at ‘s-Gravenzande, not far from The Hague.

The Vlissingen turtle’ shell was studded with mussels and it is in a severely weakened condition. “Normally they take the mussels off themselves,” Jaap van der Hiele from the Reddingsteam Zeedieren told broadcaster NOS. “The mussels make them increasingly heavy and then it becomes even harder to find food so they weaken even more.” 

Both turtles have been taken to the Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam, the only place in the country that is equipped to care for sea turtles.  

In October an extremely rare and endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) was caught by fishermen off the coast of Walcheren in Zeeland. And earlier this month, a second Kemp’s Ridley turtle washed up on a beach in Zoutelande, also in Zeeland.

Those turtles are thought to have been carried away from their natural habitat in the Gulf of Mexico on the Gulf Stream and may have become disoriented by the lower sea temperatures.

Loggerhead turtles are better equipped to deal with colder temperatures but are not normally spotted in the Netherlands. They too may have ended up in the wrong current, and storm Pia may have also played a role, Van der Hiele told NOS.  

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