UPDATE: June 21, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The BayNet contacted Amanda Weschler, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), who was able to provide insight into the animal discovered last week on the shores of Lusby, Maryland.
According to Weschler, the turtle was identified as a leatherback sea turtle, an endangered species indigenous to the Atlantic Ocean that can grow in excess of 1,000 pounds. MDNR usually has around 20-30 annual reports of dead loggerhead sea turtles, a smaller and more common type of turtle than its leatherback kin. Leatherback sightings, on the other hand, are much more rare, with Weschler estimating that MDNR receives around two reports of leatherback sea turtles per year.
Most of the sea turtle sightings are reported off of Assateague State Park or in Ocean City, according to Weschler.
MDNR was unable to definitively rule the cause of death due to the rapid decomposition of the animal, but did surmise that entanglement was a possible cause of death.
“Entanglement restricts the animal’s mobility and could cause it to drown,” Weschler explained. “Because of the very advanced state of decomposition [of the animal], we were limited in the amount of viable samples and data we were able to collect.”
Weschler attributed the paucity of leatherback sea turtle sightings to the animal’s “pelagic” nature, meaning it lives in the middle of the ocean as opposed to the bottom or shore.
After being apprised of the original report on June 14, MDNR worked swiftly and efficiently to obtain the turtle’s carcass and perform clean-up on the shore.
You can reach the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline at 1-(800)-628-9944.
Lusby, MD (June 14, 2016) – At approximately 6:10 p.m., sources notified The BayNet about a large carcass in the Chesapeake Bay located on a homeowner’s private beach on Bay Drive in Lusby, Maryland. The beach is located about a quarter of a mile from Seahorse Beach, a beach serving the Chesapeake Ranch-Estates community.
The carcass appeared to be approximately six feet long and–judging by a far-from-scientific eye test–around 500 pounds. The animal’s head was missing, while a buoy was tethered around its neck. Sources on the scene believe the animal is a sea turtle, judging by the animal’s flippers and hard shell.
It is unclear at this time how the animal entered the Chesapeake Bay. The BayNet has notified the Department of Natural Resources.
Contact Corey Chaconas at firstname.lastname@example.org.