■ BY SUE ERWIN
Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association volunteer and Board member Melissa Csank said an unusual number of dead sea turtles have washed up on the beaches of Gasparilla Island recently.
“In less than three weeks, citizens on the beach have reported four separate deceased turtles, from the Range Light to the bridge at the north end,” Csank said. All the turtles were loggerheads, and no uniform cause of death could be found.
One appeared to be a shark attack, and another appeared to have been hit by a boat but also was also partly eaten, and it is unclear which came first.
“The third was emaciated and covered in barnacles, which is an indication of a slow-moving, sick turtle,” Csank said. “The last had no clear cause of death. Without a necropsy (autopsy) and with no visible injuries, it is very difficult to know what caused the death.”
Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association Board member and island permit holder Donna Larson responded to each of the incidents. Each dead turtle is documented and measured, and information from the scene is recorded. The information is then sent to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the situation is further monitored.
If you find a dead, sick or injured sea turtle, please call FWC’s 24-hour wildlife alert number at 1-888-404-3922. Be prepared to give the location of the turtle, the condition and how to reach the turtle. If the turtle appears to have spray paint on its shell, this may indicate that it has already been documented by the Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association.
The same deceased turtle can wash out and up from the surf numerous times, and painting the shell after recording information helps reduce duplicate reporting and recordings.
For more information, visit myfwc.com.