Dead Turtle Showed No Signs of Entanglement, Boat Strike

Sick TurtleCOTUIT – Officials with the New England Aquarium say the 560-pound dead leatherback turtle that washed up on a beach in Cotuit did not die from a boat strike or entanglement.

That information comes after biologists conducted a necropsy on the animal. Biologists say the turtle appears to have no signs of a strike or deadly entanglement. She did have evidence of a prior entanglement, but those wounds had healed.

The necropsy found that the turtle was not yet an adult, despite her size. Leatherbacks in the area usually weigh between 600 and 800 pounds, but it’s not uncommon for some turtles to check in at over 1,000 pounds.

Biologists say the turtle was not underweight and appears to have had good muscle and fat. However, its digestive system was empty, despite a large amount of jellyfish in the area, which leatherbacks feed on exclusively. Aquarium officials have gathered tissue samples to conduct more pathology testing to try and determine a cause of death. Those test results are expected to take several weeks.

Hundreds of the endangered turtles migrate through the waters of Nantucket Sound each summer, heading north to the Gulf of Maine to feed on jellyfish until the fall. The animals are often struck by boaters in the area, and officials ask mariners to be vigilant and keep an eye out for wildlife.

Additionally, the turtles can become entangled in fishing gear. Any boaters who encounter entangled animals should contact the US Coast Guard.
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