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Dozens Of Turtles Found Dead On Sea Isle City Beach

SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBS) -- Dozens of dead diamondback turtles were found dumped on a Sea Isle City beach earlier this week. The turtles were discovered on a stretch of beach near 20th Street.

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The Sea Isle City Beach Patrol says that shortly before noon on Memorial Day, they were called to the 20th Street area after a woman found about 80 dead diamondback terrapins spread across the beach.

dead turtles
Dozens of dead turtles were found on a Sea Isle City beach. (credit: Sea Isle Beach Patrol)

"When we got there we saw about 65 turtles in a grouping and about 10 feet away was a commercial crab trap," said Sea Isle City Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele. "I've been here since 1968 and I've never seen something of this nature. The crab trap was cut, the line was cut."

No one has taken responsibility and the beach patrol is handing over the crab trap to state wildlife regulators to investigate. One thing Steele knows is that the trap didn't have turtle guards, which are required in many Jersey Shore crabbing spots.

The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor works to protect the terrapins from human hazards.

"It could have been that it was originally set in a location that had a lot of terrapins in it," said Brian Williamson, a scientist at the institute. "They very likely were trapped in the crab pot for long enough that they had drowned."

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The institute doesn't have an exact number on how many turtles die each year in crab pots, but they do know people contribute to deaths quite often. In fact, about 500 of these turtles die each year because of car strikes.

If you use crab traps, attach restrictors and check your catch regularly so turtles don't die.

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