Tuesday 4 November 2014

Leatherbacks, Osprey & Seal Pup

Bunch of random stuff, mostly dead unfortunately but with one good story to finish up with.

These remains of a Leatherback Turtle was reported to us a fortnight back or so. It's the first dead turtle I've personally encountered here. There are several records for the county however with one (dead) turning up at Barna as recently as this February and a rarer still Loggerhead Turtle washed up dead on Mweenish Island, Carna in January. This individual measured 1.46 metres in length and wasn't far off the average size for an adult. They are the largest turtle species in the world and are one of the few that can survive the cool waters at this latitude.

Underside of Leatherback Turtle, Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, 24th October 2014. Three vertebrate still attached to the underside.

Upperside of Leatherback Turtle, Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, 24th October 2014. Half the left-hand side of the carapace is missing.
Some may recall photos of a juvenile Osprey perched on the gateposts of a Brackloon Primary School, South of Westport last September. The bird was very tame so something obviously wasn't quite right. Unfortunately the bird was picked up dead shortly afterwards. The bird was very underweight as was evident in the wasted breast area. It's currently residing in the freezer at Connemara National Park.

Osprey feet.



I got a call from Féicín Mulkerin on Saturday morning to say that there was a Grey Seal pup on the Aughrus pier just past Claddaghduff. I've gotten a few calls about apparent injured seals over the last few years but they've all proved to be perfectly healthy adults who were just hauled up in somewhat unusual locations. This poor wee fella was in obvious trouble when I saw him. Most of our Grey Seals in Connemara pup on the offshore islands such as Inishshark, Inishgort and Friar Island. If any pups were to be washed offshore none would make it to the mainland as they would quickly drown or die from hypothermia. A search of the area failed to find any possible candidates of a mother. The pup had been present on the pier since Friday. It was obviously dehydrated at this state and weak from hunger. With the help of Féicín we managed to put it in the back of my van after cutting it free from a fishing net that it had managed to get itself entangled in. After a few phone call I managed to find a place for it in the Irish Seal Sanctuary in Courtown, Co. Wexford. Three hours later I meet up with volunteers Mel and Leena halfway in Athlone where they successfully managed to rehydrate the pup. This definitely raised a few eyebrows in the carpark of Woodies DIY store as seal pups aren't exactly a common sight in Athlone town! Athlone is just about as far away from the coast as one can get in Ireland. It will be cared for in Wexford and fingers crossed it will have a good chance of being released back into the wild once it matures in a few weeks time.

Grey Seal pup
No sign of a mega gull at the end of this rainbow.

Sea Kale, rare(ish?) marine plant.


  1. Was the osprey ringed so that its origins could be identified?

    1. Not ringed unfortunately. Most likely to be a Scottish bird.