In the UK, off the coast of Pokerris in Cornwall, a zombified sea turtle the size of a boat was found. The disturbing discovery was made by Richard Pears and James Mustoe, along with James’s children, while returning from a wildlife watching trip.

Said Mustoe, “We saw this thing floating in the water from a way off and didn’t have a clue what it could be.” Upon approaching the mystery object, the group realized it was actually the body of a decomposing leatherback turtle. Mustoe told IFLScience, “I was stunned — it was shocking.”

Credit: James Mustoe via IFLScience

“When we realized what it was, it was very sad but also seeing something that rare and that size just bobbing in the sea like that must be a once in a lifetime encounter. I told my children it would be something they could tell their grandchildren about in years to come,” Mustoe added.

The group described the turtle as being “the size of a small boat.” This suggests the leatherback turtle was up to 100-years-old when it died. The turtle subspecies prefers to hang out and nest near sandy beaches in tropical and subtropical regions. Every now and again, however, they do travel to the Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Western Pacific Oceans. Despite this, the presence of the leatherback turtle in the UK is an anomaly.

Credit: James Mustoe via IFLScience

A thorough investigation of the creature was conducted by Three Bays Wildlife Group. They told IFLScience, “Leatherbacks are within UK waters, they just get on with life out at sea. They do stretch up the east side of the Atlantic past [the] UK. Indeed, another dead one washed up at Marazion 12 days ago, one was cut free from pot ropes in St Austell bay a couple of weeks ago, and a friend was out sailing and saw one swimming off.”

According to the IUCN Red List, leatherback turtles are in a “vulnerable” position, due to the effects of mankind’s unsustainable habits, poaching, coastal development, and accidentally being caught by fishermen. Hopefully, this latest story inspires momentum for the leatherback turtles’ plight.

Credit: James Mustoe via IFLScience

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h/t IFLScience