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Mind the turtle!

Boat-users: beware of jellyfish-predator

Jellyfish invading south west beaches have something to contend with if they don't want to be eaten - a leatherback turtle's been spotted off the westcountry coast.

Teenage kayaker James Adger took this footage of the crusty reptile this week off Pendennis Point near Falmouth (you'll need to set aside two seconds to view it). The six-footer (that's the turtle, not the boy) is the first to been seen in UK waters this year - and University of Exeter marine boffins are appealing for boat-users to take extra care in its vicinity.

Professor Brendan Godley, who leads the Exeter Marine research strategy at the university says: “Leatherbacks are warm-blooded and are known to swim into northern waters, including those of the UK, each summer to eat their preferred prey of jellyfish. They are spread all over the Atlantic, so it’s very special to see one as close as James did.

“Coming so close to the shore can lead to problems for turtles, because it can expose them to plastic pollution and the risk of boat strike. We would ask boat users to be vigilant, especially if they spot lots of jellyfish in a certain area.”

This leatherback is probably a migrant from the Caribbean or French Guiana. 14-year-old James says:  “It was an amazing sight, half the length of our kayak and easily as wide – spotted seconds after a barrel jellyfish.”

Rod Penrose, who runs the UK turtle sightings and stranding scheme would welcome any other records of sea turtles in UK waters. He's at rodpenrose@strandings.com

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