Friday, April 25, 2014

Sea Turtle Mystery on Knight Island‏

Sea turtle recovered on the Spit on Knight Island

When walking the beach on Knight Island I happened upon a sea turtle mystery.  Three ladies who volunteer for the sea turtle patrol were recovering the body of a dead female loggerhead turtle from the surf.  Eva Furner and Pam Neer from the Coastal Wildlife Club found the turtle during their nest survey.  They phoned Lynette Auger, the contact person for Charlotte County, who contacted Cathy Schwartz who is authorized to examine dead turtles and either mark and bury them or turn them over to the county and subsequently state staffs for autopsy.  The three ladies lifted and carried the body from the water to the beach where they could examine it.  (photos below) Surprisingly the body was quite fresh and did not show any marks indicating the cause of death.  The only clue was that the turtle seemed to be lighter than expected.  This suggested a problem with feeding or digestion leading to malnutrition.  Of course sea turtles are returning to area beaches at this time to nest.  It seems strange that a sick turtle would make the migration for reproduction.  So this remains a mystery, why such a healthy looking female loggerhead would be dead on the beach.  Maybe a subsequent autopsy will reveal the cause.  Nesting last year was excellent so we are all hoping for a strong showing again this year which indicates that the sea turtle population is healthy and recovering from a long decline.

Bill Dunson

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