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Cause of death undetermined for leatherback turtle found on P.E.I. beach

A dead turtle in the tide wash at West Point on Oct. 2. It was picked up by a Provincial Fish and Wildlife officer and taken to Charlottetown for a necropsy.
A dead turtle in the tide wash at West Point on Oct. 2. It was picked up by a Provincial Fish and Wildlife officer and taken to Charlottetown for a necropsy.

What caused the death of a rare leatherback turtle that washed ashore in West Point earlier this month is still undetermined.

WEST POINT, P.E.I. - What caused the death of a rare leatherback turtle that washed ashore in West Point earlier this month is still undetermined.

The turtle, about 1.5 metres long, was found near the MacDonald’s Shore Road beach access road in West Point on Oct. 1. The carcass was retrieved by provincial Fish and Wildlife personnel on Oct. 2 and delivered to the Atlantic Veterinary College for a necropsy.

The procedure on the badly decomposed turtle was conducted by wildlife pathologist Dr. Laura Bourque.

A spokesman at the college said further testing is needed before a final report can be prepared.

Leatherbacks, although endangered, are not uncommon to Atlantic Canada waters. They average around 1.5 metres in length and weigh up to 400 kg. The species has existed for nearly 100 million years.

Adult leatherbacks are known to travel up to 18,000 kilometers per year. After feasting on jellyfish in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait during the summer months, they head south for the winter.

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