Dead Sea Turtle Found

By Catherine Cluett

A dead sea turtle was found on the beach near the wharf last Monday. Department of Land and Natural Recourses (DLNR) biologist Bill Puleloa came to bury the turtle. The cause of its death is unknown. “They don’t live forever,” he says.

Normally turtles die in the ocean and other animals benefit from their death as part of nature’s cycle. But this honu washed ashore untouched. “The wharf acts as a barrier for floating objects,” says Puleloa. The turtle had to have been dead at least three to five days, he explained, in order for gases to form in its body that allowed it to float to shore.

A virus epidemic known as Fibropapillomas, a variant of herpes, used to be a frequent cause of death among sea turtles, says Puleloa. The virus causes tumors in affected animals, often growing on their flippers or spreading into their mouth and throat. But the virus is on the decline now, and Puleloa says death caused by the virus is usually obvious.

DLNR has done a series of tagging projects to keep track of sea turtles from Molokai. Tagged turtles have been found as far as the Philippines and the Marshall Islands, which means a journey of up to 5,000 miles.

If you find a dead sea turtle, do not move or touch it but call the DLNR at 808-587-0077.

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