A series of seemingly dead and rotting sea turtles found recently on North Carolina beaches have proven to be very much alive, say rescuers in Wrightsville Beach.
Gruesome looking examples were posted Monday on Facebook, with a warning that appearances were deceiving.
“At first glance, they may appear to be deceased, however, oftentimes they are still alive,” said a post by Nancy Hutchison Fahey of the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project.
“It is likely these turtles have been struggling for survival throughout the winter,” she wrote, “and no longer had the strength to resist the force of strong currents sweeping them toward shore.”
Many can be saved, if found in time by rescuers, said the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project.
Fahey’s post, which has been shared nearly 5,000 times, notes “several severely debilitated” turtles were found in recent days on North Carolina beaches. Some have ended up at The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue Rehabilitation Center in Surf City for care, Fahey said.
It’s not clear why so many have suddenly been found. But the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says the state’s sea turtle population has been hit hard by collisions with boats, ocean pollution and getting trapped in fishing nets.
The sea turtles found along North Carolina’s Outer Banks are among the world’s “largest living reptiles,” weighing as much as 2,000 pounds, according to Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project is asking for help from the public finding the stranded turtles.
“A timely rescue effort may make the difference between life and death,” said a post by the nonprofit. “Please never put a stranded sea turtle back in the water and report all sightings immediately.”