Four sea turtles washed up dead on New Jersey beaches on Sunday, including one in Sea Isle City, near Townsends Inlet, and one in North Wildwood, near Central Avenue.
Sheila Dean, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, said the turtles usually make their way up the coast, following the warmer water. Turtles that washed up Sunday were “pretty badly decomposed,” so there’s no way to tell how they died, she said.
The turtle that washed up in North Wildwood was a 30-lb loggerhead turtle, which can grow to as much as 1,000 pounds. The turtle found on the Townsends Inlet beach was a 245-pound leatherback turtle, which can grow up to 1,600 pounds.
The stranding center receives calls every year, typically beginning in early June, for reports of various species of sea turtles that have washed up dead on New Jersey beaches, Dean said.
“They get hit by boats, they ate plastic, they get caught in fishing line and drown,” she said. “This is routine. This is pretty much normal.”
So far this year, turtles have washed up on Long Beach Island, Cape May, Longport, Villas and Seaside Park. Sunday, four washed up on state beaches, including Spring Lake and Island Beach State Park, in addition to those in Sea Isle City and North Wildwood, Dean said.
All species of sea turtles are considered federally endangered and it is illegal to touch or remove them from the beach or water, whether alive or dead.
Dean said lifeguards had to keep someone from trying to remove a turtle from one of Sunday’s washups, but said she didn’t know which one.
In 2011, the center had reports of 34 sea turtles washing up; in 2010, 37 wash-ups were reported.
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