Endangered sea turtle rescued from Shubenacadie River
URBANIA, N.S. -- An endangered leatherback sea turtle was rescued on the Shubenacadie River late Wednesday afternoon.
Steve Elder first laid eyes on the large sea turtle at the start of the week.
"When we saw it, it was about two kilometers behind me," he explains. "Adjacent to the water, parked on a sandbar and in some distress."
Elder owns the Tidal Bore Rafting Resort in Urbania, N.S. on the Shubenacadie River.
He knew the animal was far away from home, so he reached out to the Canadian Sea Turtle Network for help.
"I suspect it might be a bit compromised in its health to have ended up down the river," explains the network's executive director, Kathleen Martin. "I think the tidal bore is really strong."
This isn't a common sighting either, the last time was in 2012.
"They can't see feed or fish in this river, it's too heavily infused with clay mud," explains Elder. "And you can't see anything in there, including all the marine mammals that get stranded so we've seen dolphin, deer, cows, river otters, eagles that have crashed into the water and can't get out. So we're pretty familiar with doing our best to try and help the wildlife of all species here on the riverbank."
Martin says leatherback sea turtles are endangered. They're typically seen along the Atlantic Coast but occasionally they'll end up in the Bay of Fundy.
"One of the many concerns that we have are that these animals are ectothermic, which means they are popularly called 'cold blooded,' they are not able to cool themselves down, so this animal has been on mudflats exposed to really hot sun over hours and hours over several days now," Martin explains.
The Canadian Sea Turtle Network worked with local rafting companies and the Stewiacke Fire Department to rescue the large reptile at low tide.
Martin says the turtle weighs anywhere from 600 to 1,000 pounds and will be safely released into the Atlantic Ocean.