TWO odd-looking specimens from a species dubbed 'the world’s weirdest turtle’ are the latest additions to the Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary.
‘Bonnie and Clyde’ are ‘Mata Mata’ turtles and are already intriguing visitors with their prehistoric looks.
They sport long necks ending in triangular flat heads covered in nodules and flaps of skin, with horns protruding from their noses, while their shells are covered in spiny dips and ridges.
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Though currently 12cm long and 12-months-old, the turtles can grow up to two feet and have been homed in the centre’s ‘Turtle World’ area.
They join an eclectic clan of Sea Life turtles including ‘snake necked’ and ‘side necked’ turtles and ‘Mississippi map’ turtles, as well as a metre long loggerhead turtle named Antiopi.
Scarborough Sea Life turtle expert, Jordan Woodhead, said: “Bonnie and Clyde are certainly eye catching – we haven’t seen anything quite like them before – but they’re already a huge hit with visitors.
"I’ve overheard the phrase ‘ugly cute’ used to describe them more than once – perhaps Mata Mata turtles are the ‘pugs’ of the turtle world.”
Mr Woodhead hopes the new turtles’ intriguing appearance will ignite fresh interest in the Turtle World displays so staff can highlight to Sea Life visitors the plight of turtles around the globe.
He said: “There are more than 300 species of turtle in our oceans and rivers today but so many are critically endangered or soon will be.
“The tourism trade has had a hugely detrimental impact on turtle populations."
During ‘turtle talks’ at feeding times, Sea Life staff encourage visitors to buy fish from local fishermen who are mindful of by-catch in fishing nets, as well as encouraging them to avoid using plastic bags and reduce ocean pollution.