“The hope is that maybe we can pass on her legacy.”

By Meghan Overdeep
May 19, 2021
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Turtle researchers in Florida managed to find a silver lining in the tragic death of a sea turtle last week.

In the early hours of Wednesday, May 12, a disoriented 400-pound female loggerhead sea turtle was struck and killed by vehicles while trying to nest just south of Paradise Beach in Brevard County.

"In the case of this turtle, there were very clear signs on the beach that she had emerged from the ocean and tried several times to dig a nest," Erin Seney, assistant research scientist with the University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group, told Florida Today. "And as she moved along the beach, trying to find a spot where she could dig a nest to lay her eggs, she ended up going up over the dune where there was a ramp or pathway."

"Unfortunately, she went up off the beach, wandered across a couple of yards, and ended up out in the road," Seney explained.

Experts believe the turtle was having difficulty digging a nest due to her injured rear flippers. It's likely she became confused by the lights of the road on her quest to find better sand.

"Staff are working with local partners to understand why this may have occurred and how it can be prevented from repeating over the remainder of the nesting season," Michelle Kerr, spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told Click Orlando.

But it's not all bad news for the turtle. Fortunately, researchers from the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group and an expert from the Brevard Zoo were able to collect 70 of her ready-to-lay eggs.

The rescued eggs were buried in a new nest chamber on the beach. They will be monitored for the next 45 to 55 days to see how many hatchlings emerge.

"For how big she was, she could be 50 to 60 years old. The chances of her surviving this long are very slim," Jess Patterson, a coordinator for the Sea Turtle Healing Center Coordinator at Brevard Zoo, told Florida Today.

"The hope is that maybe we can pass on her legacy," she added.