An estimated 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle washed ashore on Savannah Beach in Lewes during the windy morning of May 30.
Lewes Beach Patrol alerted beachgoers to the incident shortly after their shift began. LBP Capt. Strohm Edwards said he noticed the dead turtle floating in the surf about 30 yards offshore and alerted his patrol. Fellow lifeguard Mat McDonough helped Edwards secure the area around the turtle when it came ashore, waiting until the volunteers with the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute arrived on scene. Officials warn the public to keep distance from stranded marine life, alive or dead, and allow professionals to handle the animals.
Preliminary examinations indicate the loggerhead turtle is a female. Male loggerhead turtles are smaller and have a longer tail that can be up to a foot in length. A tag found on the turtle said Gainesville, Fla., indicating the animal may have been tagged there during its lifetime.
Jessica Meyer, a MERR stranding technician, and volunteer Julie McCall were excited when they noticed the turtle had a tag. In marine biology, tags are valuable to researchers, as they may help link teams to information about the animal’s habits. Meyer and McCall collected the tag and recorded other information about the animal, including its size and distinctive markings.
MERR Executive Director Suzanne Thurman said her group will gather more information about the loggerhead turtle and contact the owners of the tag. The data could provide clues on the turtle’s life and possible cause of death. While such contacts are a productive form of data sharing, she said, they are difficult calls to make because the owner of the tag has lost an animal it was studying.