Leona, Lydia & Mako – the tale of a turtle and two sharks

Dan Brown

We tend to think our British and Irish seas are fairly unremarkable but a beached Mako Shark, a glancing blow by a Great White, and a Loggerhead Turtle certainly prove this isn’t the case! 
The female Mako on Barmouth beach. Image credit Llew Griffin

The female Mako on Barmouth beach. Image credit Llew Griffin

The marine news has been coming thick and fast this autumn. Hot on the heals of the Pygmy Sperm Whale in Gwynedd a stunning female Mako shark sadly washed ashore on Barmouth beach, also Gwynedd. Mako’s are uncommon visitors to our waters and have sadly declined by around 50% as a result of fishing practices. For more info on them see here

These sharks are closely related to Great White Sharks are simply phenomenal predators. Interestingly another was caught off the Pembrokeshire coast last year which could indicate a slight warming of our oceanic waters.

The female Mako on Barmouth beach. Image credit Llew Giffin

The female Mako on Barmouth beach. Image credit Llew Giffin

This animal was autopsied by Marine Enviromental Monitoring and found to contain a Harbour Porpoise.

The Harbour Porpoise found during the autopsy of the Mako. Image courtesy of Marine Environmental Monitoring

The Harbour Porpoise found during the autopsy of the Mako. Image courtesy of Marine Environmental Monitoring

On a happier note, its great to be able to report that Lydia, the Great White Shark, that teased with Irish waters earlier this year, is still fighting fit and looking to start a return journey back our way. She’s currently hanging out on the Grand Banks and in theory she should start heading east again soon. How close will she come this time around??

Lydia was the first documented Great White Shark to cross the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. From her tagging off Florida she has cruised north and east before returning to her original tagging location and starting the entire circular migration again. There is every chance that she, or other Great Whites could make into Irish Oceanic waters such as the Porcupine Bight off Co Kerry. We can only keep our fingers crossed as I for one would do anything to see a Great White in British or Irish waters! For more info and some pretty great images have a look here:

Not a job for the faint hearted! Lydia sporting her brand new tags off the Florida coast

Not a job for the faint hearted! Lydia sporting her brand new tags off the Florida coast

They always do things bigger in the US!

They always do things bigger in the US!

You can literally follow her on Twitter @RockStarLydia as well as White Shark research in general @A_Whiteshark, and @OCEARCH

And lastly Leona, the Loggerhead Turtle. She was found back in November 2013 on the beach at Seafield, Quilty, Co Clare in poor health. She was taken to Galway Atlantiquarium where she was treated and slowly gained strength and mass. Fast forward a year and with a lot of effort and support all round, including an Aer Lingus flight, Leona has found herself back in the waters off the Canary Islands complete with a satellite tag. After a superstar wave off she has been making good progress and is currently heading south off Tenerife. It will be fascinating to see where the next year of her life takes her. You can read a full story of her recovery on the IWDG page here.

Leona the Loggerhead Turtle at her weakest in November 2013

Leona the Loggerhead Turtle at her weakest in November 2013

Leona's track since being released on 4th December on Gran Canaria

Leona’s track since being released on 4th December on Gran Canaria

For up to date movements and more information on the tracking of Leona check out the webpage here. Or to follow her movements on twitter find her @Leonaslog

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