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Dorian causes injured loggerhead sea turtle to wash ashore

MERR Institute
The female injured loggerhead sea turtle

Storm surge from the remnants from Hurricane Dorian stranded a massive loggerhead sea turtle on Lewes Beach over the weekend.

Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR), said storms cause more strandings.

She noted the female loggerhead turtle had cuts on her shell behind her head, likely caused by a boat propeller.

Although the turtle is estimated to weigh between 300 and 350 pounds, Thurman said her injury debilitated and weakened her.

“This is not a fresh wound," she said. "She’d been living with it for a little while. We don’t know how long and she was underweight. As huge as she was, she had signs of being thin.”

Thurman said MERR provided emergency care. But it quickly sent the turtle to the Baltimore National Aquarium for long-term treatment.

Thurman said she believes the loggerhead turtle may not have survived much longer on her own without intervention. She said most propeller injuries are fatal.

“Had she remained out at sea, I don’t expect her prognosis would be very good because I’m sure she has some infection from the wound and she has pain from the wound,” she said.

Five other sea turtles were found dead on Delaware’s coast over the weekend. Thurman said the storm was not the cause of their deaths, noting storms often push the animals onto land.

Thurman said she urges beach goers call MERR immediately when they see a stranding, whether the animal is dead or alive.

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