Sadly, last week we experienced our first stranding of the season. While we were patrolling Blind Pass, a boater alerted us that he had seen a dead turtle in the vicinity. Sure enough, in the channel between Blind Pass and Dickman’s Point we spotted the dead loggerhead sea turtle, floating in the water. Everyone on the boat was extremely sad upon locating it. We were told to tie it off to a mangrove tunnel and fill out a stranding form. Because we did not have the appropriate equipment to complete the report, and due to afternoon thunderstorms, we had to return to the turtle the next day to do so.
When we came back we discovered that the turtle had been found by some vultures. This made the process of taking measurements very unpleasant, but we learned a lot. We took measurements of its carapace and noted that it was missing its back-left fin, which appeared to be an old wound that had healed over. We spray-painted the date on it to make it clear that it had already been reported. While we were on our way back to the field station, nature gave us a beautiful show when two dolphins started playing in our wake, as if to comfort us after this sad experience.
We are not sure what caused the death of this turtle, but this shows how important it is to be aware of your surroundings when boating—it could save a turtle’s life! If you ever see a sick or injured turtle please contact Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC, or notify Reserve staff or Team OCEAN, if they are nearby.
Anthony Himmelberger, Sea Turtle Intern