According to the Sea Turtle Association of Japan, at least 119 young stranded sea turtles have been sighted along the Sea of Japan since November 2012. This is a big increase in their numbers, since only four such turtles were seen on the shore last winter, and seven the year before that.
The Osaka-based nonprofit organization said they are unsure as to the reasons for the increase in numbers, but they are hoping that this means an increase in the sea turtle population in the sea around Japan. These figures were confirmed by the association through aquariums and related facilities in the region. The loggerhead turtles, which usually spawn in the Tanegashima and Yakushima islands in Kagoshima Prefecture, had the most number of turtles that drifted ashore. Most who are born in those areas usually migrate to the Pacific Ocean, through the Japan Current. But during that trip, some of them get swept in the Tsushima current and so they end up along the Sea of Japan. Those who drift ashore are the ones who got sick probably due to the cold seawater.
This winter, 70 turtles were found on the coast of Fukui Prefecture, 18 in Niigata and 14 in Ishikawa, as compared to last year’s two in Fukui and one each in Niigata and Ishikawa. For the first time as well, stranded turtles were found on the coast of Akita and Aomori prefectures, meaning all nine prefectures were “visited” by the creatures. Those who discovered and rescued the turtles while walking along the shore usually took them to aquariums. Teradomari Aquarium in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture has adopted seven of those turtles. Akira Aoyagi, the aquarium’s director said that they are an endangered species and so they want to study closely why the number of stranded turtles are increasing. They plan to release the turtles by summer.