Large leatherback sea turtle found dead on the South Shore of P.E.I.
A large dead turtle was discovered in the community of Argyle Shore, P.E.I., Friday morning.
The Atlantic Veterinary College has confirmed it is a leatherback sea turtle, a species considered to be endangered.
"It was washed up just a little beyond where our cottage subdivision is," said Harvey Inman, a local resident who witnessed the turtle on the shore.
The leatherback turtle weighs more than 450 kilograms (1,000 pounds), according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife P.E.I.
It is like, "two or three people. You could hardly move it," said Inman.
Wildlife officials transported the turtle to AVC where pathologists will perform a necropsy within the next week, said Anna MacDonald, external relations officer at the college.
Inman had never seen anything like the turtle before.
"Amazing. I think a once in a lifetime — too bad that it was dead. Just amazing," Inman said.
The endangered turtles are known to migrate to the waters of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait at this time of year to feed on jellyfish, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The main threats to the prehistoric turtles are entanglement in fishing gear and ingesting marine debris, like plastic bags that resemble jellyfish.
There are also threats in their nesting regions like beach-front development and poaching for their eggs and meat.
Hoisting the turtle from the shore was a challenge for Fish and Wildlife officials due to a large bank.
Inman watched as a tow truck was used to hoist the turtle from the shore so it could be transported to the AVC.
The leatherback turtle was partially submerged in water when Fish and Wildlife officials arrived and it is currently frozen.
The necropsy will be conducted in the coming days once the turtle has thawed, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative has confirmed.
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With files by Sara Fraser