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  • Dut: Lederschildpad
  • Lat: Dermochelys coriacea
  • Ger: Lederschildkröte
  • Eng: Leatherback turtle


  • Dut: Dikkopschildpad (onechte karetschildpad)
  • Lat: Caretta caretta
  • Ger: Unechte Karettschildkröte
  • Eng: Loggerhead turtle


  • Dut: Soepschildpad
  • Lat: Chelonia mydas
  • Ger: Suppenschildkröte
  • Eng: Green turtle


  • Dut: Kemps zeeschildpad
  • Lat: Lepidochelys kempii
  • Ger: Kemps Schildkröte
  • Eng: Kemp’s ridley
Loggerhead, Adriaan Dijksen,

Sea turtles

Most sea turtle species live in warm water. You don't find abundantly numbers in the North Sea. However every once in awhile, a weakened animal is carried by the currents. Sometimes the Gulf Stream leads it into the North Sea. Green turtles in particular are the most common turtle species to wash ashore along the North Sea coast. These turtles are shipped across the world for human consumption. Leatherbacks live where jellyfish, the major part of their diet, are plentiful. That's why they occasionally swim in colder seas, such as the North Sea.

  • Leatherback
    Leatherback by Texel, Jan Willem van Duijn

    In the autumn and early winter, many ocean inhabitants migrate from the nutrient-rich north to the warm south. Sometimes they take the wrong turn along the way and end up in the North Sea. We are familiar with this phenomenon particularly in the case of fish (such as Ray's breams and sunfish) and whales (humpbacks and sperm whales). During the summer, leatherback turtles migrate north through the Atlantic Ocean, as far as Iceland. Perhaps they end up in the North Sea on their way back for the same reason as the fish and whales.

    There have been dozens of beachings in the Netherlands as well as sightings of live animals. Several of the beached animals had plastic in their stomach. Leatherbacks normally eat jellyfish. Floating plastic looks a lot like a jellyfish.

    17 July 1777 Domburg, alive
    29 May 1961 Lightship Texel, dead
    4 August 1968 Ameland, dead
    5 November 1972 Hondsbossche Zeewering, dead
    13 September 1973 Oosterschelde mouth, reported alive
    12 November 1973 Bergen aan Zee, dead
    5 November 1977 Ameland, first living, later found dead
    18 November 1977 Monster, in pieces
    27 August 1980 North Sea by Schiermonnikoog, reported alive
    4 August 1981 North Sea by Terschelling, levend opgevist
    23 October 1983 Langevelderslag, dead
    14 September 1984 North Sea by Terschelling, reported alive
    17 August 1987 Pettemer plaat, North Sea, reported alive
    8 September 1987 Wijk aan Zee, dead
    1990 Vlissingen, dead
    9 October 1992 North Sea by Westkapelle, fished up alive
    18 October 1995 North Sea, fished up alive
    12 August 1997 North Sea by Terschelling, reported alive
    29 October 1998 Zandvoort, dead
    7 January 2002 North Sea, reported alive
    18 September 2002 Noordzee, Ketelgat, fished up alive
    24 September 2005 Ouddorp, reported alive
    21 September 2009 Den Helder, dead
    27 September 2009 Razende Bol by Texel, reported alive
    7 October 2009 North Sea, 85 kilometer west of Texel, fished up dead
    8 October 2009 Marsdiep by Texel, reported alive
    26 September 2014 North Sea 80 km W of Maasvlakte, alive
  • Loggerhead sea turtle
    Loggerhead, Adriaan Dijksen,

    There are eight known beachings of loggerheads in the Netherlands. In October 2008, a loggerhead stranded by Groote Keeten, south of Den Helder. The animal was near death and was brought to Ecomare. A few days later, the reptile was moved to Burger's Zoo. The animal recovered completely and was released in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal in 2009.

    The loggerheads found in the North Sea can easily come from the Caribbean, the Mediterranean Sea or the coast of West-Africa. In Western Europe, more sightings of this species have been made in the past several decades.

    2 October 1707 Beverwijk, alive
    27 December 1894 Ouddorp, alive
    1927 Scheveningen, alive
    22 December 1954 Noordwijk, dead
    October 1959 Noordwijk, rib plate
    5 August 1998 Vlissingen, skeleton
    2 March 2007 Vlieland, dead
    23 October 2008 Groote Keeten, alive
    January 2015 Katwijk, alive
    July 2015 Camperduin, dead (shell 55-60 centimeters)
  • Green sea turtle

    The green sea turtle, known in Dutch as the 'soup turtle', has been reported eleven times along the Dutch coast. These animals were probably caught elsewhere for the purpose of making turtle soup and transported per ship via the North Sea. For one or other reason, they were thrown overboard. This is illegal. Green sea turtle are endangered and it is not allowed to collect, harm or kill them.

    July 1889 Westkapelle, 3 specimen, 2 dead, 1 alive
    February 1934 Callantsoog, dead
    February 1934 IJmuiden, dead
    20 February 1934 Katwijk, dead
    21 February 1934 Goeree, dead
    1 December 1937 Katwijk, dead
    November 1952 Petten, alive
    1968 Brown bank, breast plate fished up
    December 1998 Ameland, breast plate
  • Kemp's ridley sea turtle

    The Kemp's ridley sea turtle is the rarest of all the sea turtles. It used to be hunted and is now critically endangered. This is partly due to pollution, loss of habitat and entanglement in fishing nets. They have been found four times along the Dutch coast. The species no longer has commercial value. These animals probably come from the Caribbean.

    4 December 1954 Scharendijke, alive
    21 December 1970 Midsland, Terschelling, alive
    13 January 1970 IJmuiden, alive
    21 November 2008 Westenschouwen, alive
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