Endangered Sea Turtles Washing up Dead
An alarming number of Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, the most endangered sea turtle in the world, have been turning up dead on our shore line. News 25’s Kristen Durand takes us to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies to show us what they’re doing to find out why this is happening.
Many dead sea turtles have washed up on our beaches the past few days. This is something the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies says is unusual for this time of year. Director for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Dr. Moby Solangi said, “It’s very concerning. We’ve had a very large number of the Kemp’s Ridley turtles, which are the most endangered species in the world, stranded this year.”
So far this year, over 45 of these turtles have washed up dead on our beaches. That’s nearly as many that have been found in the span of a year for the past few years. Veterinarian at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Dr. Debra Moore said, “Last year, we might have had 61 to 65 turtles in the entire season. This year alone we’ve had almost 50. The season continues until November. We’re very early in the season.”
Several turtles washed up over the weekend and at least three more on Monday. “When they wash up, we do a necropsy on them to identify what’s happening and then process their tissues, send them out to different laboratories to diagnose what the problem is,” said Dr. Moore.
While it will take at least a few months to determine what the actual cause is, Dr. Moore says it could be anything from the recent red tide, pollution in the ocean or even the oil spill. Even though the oil spill happened more than five years ago, oil can have a lasting effect on the immune system. “Over a period of time, if your immune system, if an animal’s immune system is compromised then they’re more susceptible to other effects. They’re more susceptible to bacterial infections or to diseases,” said Dr. Moore.
Whatever the cause, the IMMS stresses the importance of environmental conservation.
To report dead or stranded marine life, you are asked to call the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies at 1-888-SOS-DOLPHIN.