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Dead leatherback turtle washes ashore in Rehoboth Beach

Courtesy of City of Rehoboth Beach Facebook page.
A dead leatherback turtle - considered endangered - washed ashore in Rehoboth Beach.

A dead Leatherback turtle washed ashore in Rehoboth Beach Monday morning.



According to the City of Rehoboth Beach Facebook page, the turtle was first seen around Laurel Street.


It was then carried by the current towards Wilmington Avenue.


Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute director Suzanne Thurman said the turtle appeared to be a subadult leatherback, 5 feet long and about 1,000 to 1,200 lbs. It appeared to have been hit by a ship. 


“What we can’t tell by our external examination is whether the turtle was hit post-mortem or whether it was still alive and was hit and that was ultimately the cause of death,” Thurman said.


Leatherback turtles are listed as endangered on the Endangered Species List.


“It’s especially tragic when we lose yet another one of an endangered species,” Thurman said. 

She said the MERR Institute won't perform a necropsy on the turtle because the carcass has already decomposed a fair amount.


Delaware usually sees four different species of sea turtles, including Kemp’s Ridleys, leatherbacks, loggerheads and green sea turtles, Thurman said. Leatherbacks typically come to Delaware’s coast in the summer to forage on jellyfish.


Thurman said this is the ninth sea turtle stranding and the first leatherback stranding in Delaware this year.


If you spot a dead or injured marine mammal or sea turtle, call MERR's stranding hotline: 302-228-5029.

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