1,000 pound dead endangered sea turtle washes ashore in Falmouth Wednesday

Necropsy scheduled to determine cause of death

   Two researchers from the New England Aquarium examine the 6.5', 1,000 pound turtle. David G. Curran photo.

A 1,000 pound, dead leatherback sea turtle washed ashore in front of the Tides Motel on Falmouth Harbor Wednesday afternoon. The turtle was first spotted Tuesday night off Falmouth.  Beachgoers watched as researchers from the New England Aquarium examined the 6.5' sea turtle.

The turtle was removed from the beach and a necropsy will be performed at a lab in Quincy, according to Katie Pugliares, Necropsy Coordinator with the New England Aquarium. Pugliares said a complete internal and external examine will be done to determine cause of death. 

According to NOAA, leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, are the largest turtle in the world.  They are also the world's largest living reptile.   Adults can grow up to 6.5' and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.  Leatherbacks are considered pelagic, or open ocean animals, but they are also known to forage along the coast in search of food, mainly jellyfish. Leatherbacks were designated an endangered species in 1970 and their critical habitat has been revised and expanded twice since then.

At the shore, researchers could not yet determine the cause of death. According to Pugliares, anything from balloons to fishing gear can be dangerous to sea turtles--causing entanglements and other injuries.

Photo/video and report by David G. Curran.

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