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Three sea turtles found near Tofino

Green sea turtles prefer tropical waters
Green sea turtles prefer tropical waters

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

December 11, 2011 — Three rare sea turtles have washed ashore on the west coast of Vancouver Island, leaving experts baffled.

Two green sea turtles and an olive ridley sea turtle have been found near Tofino -- a far cry from the tropical environment they usually call home.

The turtles began washing ashore about two weeks ago, and the first two have since died. The third was rescued earlier this week in poor condition, and is being cared for by staff at the Vancouver Aquarium.

While turtles have been known to venture into BC waters during the late summer months, they're rarely found in the region during the fall and winter.

Experts suspect that the animals were passing through the area when cold weather hit.

Water that's cooler than 14C will cause turtles to enter into a coma-like state, which may explain why they drifted ashore.

The green sea turtle is an endangered species. Olive ridleys have fared slightly better, but coastal development and beach erosion have been threatening them.

Dead or injured sea turtles along Vancouver shores should be reported to the Marine Mammal Response Network hotline at: 1-800-465-4336.

Live sea turtles should be reported to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network at: 1-866-I SAW (1-866-472-9663).

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