|A leatherback sea turtle was discovered stuck in Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie River on Fri., Aug. 17, 2012. Despite the help of volunteers and experts, the huge endangered reptile died. Its remains are being sent to P.E.I. for a necropsy. (Facebook, Canadian Sea Turtle Network)
Desperate Nova Scotia residents filled reusable bags with water to try to save a stranded 600-pound leatherback turtle over the weekend, but the endangered reptile died.
The Halifax-based conservation group Canadian Sea Turtle Network said the male turtle was discovered Friday stuck in the freshwater Shubenacadie River, 20 km from the Bay of Fundy.
"I've never heard of one ever being found in a river. This is extremely anomalous," executive director Kathleen Martin said Monday.
Volunteer Heather Burke, who lives near where the enormous turtle was spotted, said rescuers' attempts to return it to the ocean were hindered by the fast-moving, unpredictable tides in the river and its sludgy banks.
"It's a shame. It was a tough thing to watch," Burke said. "That river is too volatile. Ropes broke trying to pull it out."
The turtle's body was taken to the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. where the remains of the little-known species will be used for research.
The tentative diagnosis of the cause of death is emaciation, Martin said.
Experts will also try to determine why the turtle ended up so far from its natural habitat.
Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtles in the world and can grow up to 2,000 pounds and reach lengths of more than six feet, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Martin said no recent counts of leatherback turtles are available, but she estimated that hundreds of the turtles travel to Atlantic Canada each spring to feed on jellyfish.