Scientists claim that the same animal captured days earlier in nearby shark nets may be a giant leatherback turtle washed up on a Gold Coast beach.
The 2.5-metre adult male was found dead yesterday by passers-by on Mermaid Beach.
Sea World Marine scientist Siobhan Houlihan said it washed up at high tide and was believed to be between the ages of 30 and 50.
“It’s extremely uncommon to see one washed up,” Ms Houlihan said.
“They are found in our waters, but they’re normally far off shore.
“The last time this happened was about 16 years ago, and the last time we’ve seen one nest in Australia was 1996.
“If you were to look from the tale tip to the head he’d probably be around 2.5-3 metres in length”
Ms. Houlihan said there were no visible signs that the turtle was critically wounded.
“We do know that there was a leatherback caught in a shark net a couple of days ago,” she said.
“It was released alive, so we’re unsure, but that is a potential.
“There is a smaller injury to the front left flipper, but again, we won’t know until we perform that necropsy.”
Curious locals, including Austin Langridge and his sons, were drawn to the dead leatherback.
“We’ve seen sea turtles, but never a turtle that big — especially a leatherback,” Mr Langridge said.
Reef Langridge, eight years old, said seeing the creature up close was an fascinating experience.
“The teeth are pretty sharp actually,” he said.
“It’s cool to see it in real life, but also not cool to see it dead.”