Cape Gazette

Massive sea turtle washes up on Lewes Beach

Officials say loggerhead likely hit by large boat propeller
By Taggart Houck | Jul 17, 2014
Photo by: Taggart Houck Officials say the more than 300 pound adult female loggerhead washed up on Lewes Beach shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday.

Lewes — A 300-pound sea turtle washed up on Lewes Beach shortly before 11 a.m. July 17, officials say.

Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Inc. responded after a call from 62-year-old beachgoer George Sokas of Lancaster, Pa., who discovered the turtle at the beach.

“I thought it was some type of a floating device,” said Sokas. “And then it just came in, and I saw it wasn't.”

Thurman measured the turtle at 3-feet-9-inches long. She said the sea turtle was an adult female loggerhead, one of four sea turtle species seen in the area.

She said the loggerhead was hit by the propeller of what was most likely a large ship and that it has been dead for at least a week. She said she thought the turtle was healthy after finding a horseshoe crab inside it.

“We'd like to say this isn't a common instance, but it is,” Thurman said. She said 25 sea turtles have washed up on the beaches since May.

“It's always a tragedy, especially to lose a female in the system,” she said.

Wendy Preston of Bridgeville also saw the loggerhead wash up.

Her oldest son asked what it was, so she sent him to look. “It was pretty sad,” she said.

Thurman says one theory is that the sea turtle could have been sleeping, and since turtles skim near the surface of the water when they sleep, a boat could have hit it.

The town of Lewes buried the massive loggerhead near the dunes.

Thurman said she received several calls about the incident. She urges beachgoers to call the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Inc. at 302-228-5029, when they discover stranded animals.

Officials say the massive sea turtle was hit by the propeller of a large boat. (Photo by: Taggart Houck)
MERR Institute Executive Director Suzanne Thurman gets help loading up the massive sea turtle from her intern, Alexis Flening, and beachgoer Tom Moore, as they prepare to bury it. (Photo by: Taggart Houck)
Beachgoers watch as the sea turtle is buried near the dunes of Lewes Beach. (Photo by: Taggart Houck)
This section of Lewes Beach is where a massive dead sea turtle washed up July 17. (Photo by: Taggart Houck)
The sea turtle displayed a giant crack across its back, believed to be from a boat propeller. (Photo by: Taggart Houck)
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