Jellyfish are the staple diet of the critically endangered leatherback turtle. These spectacular reptiles are seasonal visitors to UK seas, migrating from their tropical nesting beaches, and analyses of stomach contents of dead leatherbacks stranded on UK shores have revealed that they feed on several species of jellyfish found around the UK.
Turtles are in an ancient group of reptiles that have witnessed the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, with the earliest marine turtle fossils dated at about 110 million years old! Seven species of marine turtle now swim our oceans and all are included on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species. Some marine turtle populations around the world are in danger of extinction, as a result of too much fishing, getting tangled in fishing gear, marine pollution and habitat destruction.
By comparing jellyfish numbers with things like sea temperature, plankton and current flow, MCS hopes to understand a bit more about what influences movements of jellyfish and leatherback turtles.
Please report any turtle or jellyfish encounters to MCS!