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Rare Find: Loggerhead Turtle Body Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast Covered in Marine Life

Published 03/19/23 at 8:30 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rare Find: Loggerhead Turtle Body Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast Covered in Marine Life

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – A bit of a rarity hit a north Oregon coast beach sometime Friday night or so. A 75-pound loggerhead turtle was found on the southern end of Manzanita's sands Saturday morning, washed up after clearly being dead for some time. (All photos Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium)

Seaside Aquarium, as part of its work with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, responded to the incident, recovering the body and documenting the find with plenty of photos. A beachgoer found the body that morning, sending them pictures along with the location. From those photos, the aquarium was already able to determine it had been dead for awhile.

Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said having been deceased for a long time its shell had garnered considerable amounts of marine life.

“This ocean-going turtle had a whole ecosystem traveling with it,” she said. “When cleaning its shell so a positive identification could be made, live gooseneck barnacles, skeleton shrimp, and even nudibranchs were found. While the Oregon Coast is no stranger to sea turtles, the species usually encountered are Olive Ridleys. Loggerheads are quite rare for this area.”

Oregon Coast Beach Connection has covered these loggerhead discoveries a few times over the past 15 years, and indeed they seem to be found roughly every few years. Seaside Aquarium has documented about five in 20 years, while other loggerheads have appeared further south along the coastline as well.

In a 2007 article, aquarium manager Keith Chandler told Oregon Coast Beach Connection that when he brought a loggerhead turtle up to Seattle Aquarium for rehabilitation, they told him they had not seen one in 20 years. (Above: sea life found on the turtle)

The vast majority of the time, loggerheads show up already dead when they hit these beaches. However, a couple have still been living when they arrived, but normally die shortly after rescue attempts.

Boothe said the loggerhead turtle is an endangered species, though they can be found throughout the globe. All species of turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and thus are protected under the law.

Nudibranch found on the turtle's shell

For this loggerhead turtle found in Manzanita, a necropsy will be performed to discover the cause of death.

There are nine distinct populations around the planet she said.

“In the Pacific there are two different populations which both nest exclusively in the Japanese Archipelago,” Boothe said. “Juveniles forage, develop, and mature in the East, West, and Central Pacific. Some of the most productive foraging grounds can be found off the coast of Baja California.”

One of the biggest threats to loggerhead sea turtles is marine debris. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that said that foraging loggerheads will react to biofouled plastic the same way they do to the smells of prey in the wild. The scents of such manmade materials bring them, cause them to chow down on the plastics, which is often fatal for the animal.

Loggerheads are built for warmer waters, and once they accidentally get caught in the cooler currents of this region they often get hypothermia. Only when distressed do loggerhead sea turtles come up onto the Oregon coast or Washington coast, Boothe said. Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


A loggerhead found in Rockaway Beach years ago

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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