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Nesting Loggerhead Found Dead on Beach

Ramp 49 entrance at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Photo: National Park Service

Cape Hatteras national Seashore staff found early Sunday morning a dead nesting loggerhead sea turtle, which they suspect died from a vehicle collision, on the beach in Frisco and are looking for information that may help determine the circumstances and events that led to the turtle’s death.

Staff found the dead loggerhead sea turtle at 5:30 a.m. Sunday on the beach about a tenth of a mile south of Ramp 49 in Frisco. Loggerheads are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Seashore officials are investigating the incident and are seeking information on a vehicle being driven between 9 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 a.m. Sunday on the beach at ramps 48 and 49 in Frisco.

The female sea turtle had begun to lay eggs into a nest dug in the beach when it is believed, based on evidence found at the scene, that a motor vehicle struck and ran over the turtle. Observations suggest the time of the apparent collision was one or more hours prior to 5:30 a.m., during a time where the route was closed to off road vehicle use. Intact eggs were discovered near the dead loggerhead sea turtle and are thought to be viable.

“At this time of year, ocean-facing off road vehicle ramps are closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for an important reason – to protect nesting sea turtles. It is very unfortunate that a vehicle appears to have disregarded the Seashore’s regulations which has resulted in this turtle death,” stated Superintendent David Hallac.

Ramp 49, along with other priority off road vehicle ramps 2, 4, 25, 27, 43, 44, 48, 49, 70 and 72 are closed to vehicles nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. All other ocean-facing off road vehicle ramps are closed to vehicles from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Visitors are reminded that sea turtles, while predominately nesting during nighttime hours, may be present on seashore beaches at any hour of the day.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dare County Community CrimeLine or the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch (ISB).  Call or text the ISB Tip Line at 888-653-0009 or visit www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip.”

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.