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In 2019, Madison Bowden-Parry was working as a Marine Biologist and Guide, with Gower Coast Adventures. On an August day, whilst southwest of The Worms Head, Madison and the Skipper both spotted something unusual in the water. It turned out to be a leatherback turtle!

Madison recalls the interaction below:

“During the summer, we get huge blooms of Rhizostoma. So much so that you can see them in their hundreds as you glide over the water in the boat. It was a high(ish) tide at the time and we were on our way back from The Worm. We hugged the coastline in search of more jellyfish, feeding harbour porpoise and common dolphins over the Helwick sandbank. It's quite strange really, as we both spotted something dark at the same time (myself and the skipper), thinking immediately it was harbour porpoise as it was slow - too slow for some social common dolphins anyway!

We then saw this huge round 'thing' break through the surface of the water and the skipper said "OMG its a leatherback turtle". By this point I was in denial - as you can probably imagine! I didn't believe him, until it came up for another breath, and then, OMG I believed him! Even better, it was munching on a huge Rhizostoma at the time, just drifting where the current took it.

I still can't believe the sighting! My eyes welled up then and they still do now. It really was a wildlife encounter of a lifetime and one that I probably won't have again - and along my home coast too!? You can't make this up and I'm so grateful to have witnessed it!

Species: Leatherback turtle (D. coriacea).
Sex: Unknown
Location: SW off The Worms Head, Gower Peninsula
Date: 26/08/2019
Time: Afternoon (between 12-3).”

Description of photos: 1) Leatherback turtle in the water off The Worms Head,
Gower Peninsula.

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