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‘Enormous’ sea turtle among creatures stranded by Hurricane Dorian along East Coast

The National Aquarium says the turtle weighs 275 pounds and is “the largest turtle patient the Animal Rescue team has received in over a decade.”
The National Aquarium says the turtle weighs 275 pounds and is “the largest turtle patient the Animal Rescue team has received in over a decade.” Facebook screenshot

An “enormous” loggerhead sea turtle described as weighing hundreds of pounds was stranded on a beach in Delaware by Hurricane Dorian, according to a marine institute.

The loggerhead was among six of the endangered sea turtles tossed ashore Saturday -- only one of which survived, the MERR Institute said in a Sunday Facebook post.

However, the surviving turtle was severely injured, officials said.

Aerial footage shows flooding and wind damage on Ocracoke Island and washed out and sand covered sections of N.C. 12 in the Outer Banks.

“The resulting northeast winds and wave action caused an elevated number of animals to wash ashore,” the institute said on Facebook. “Stranded animals included... an enormous loggerhead that stranded alive at Lewes Beach. She was more than 3 feet in length and is estimated to weigh between 350-400 lbs.”

Photos posted by the Lewes Police Department revealed it took six men to lift the turtle, which had a suspected ”boat propeller injury” on its shell, MERR said.

“She may have been living with this for quite some time, and was underweight and debilitated,” MERR officials posted on Facebook. “The turtle was treated initially at the MERR facility and subsequently transported by volunteers to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where she will receive long-term rehabilitation for her condition.”

The National Aquarium in Baltimore says the sea turtle is in critical condition, and confirmed it was likely hit by a boat, according to a Tuesday Facebook update.

Aquarium staff estimated its weight at around 275 pounds, which is about 25 pounds larger than the norm, according to National Geographic. However, “large specimens of more than 1,000 pounds have been found,” National Geographic says.

“This loggerhead is the largest turtle patient the Animal Rescue team has received in over a decade!” the aquarium posted.

How old the turtle might be has yet to be determined, aquarium officials said. It’s believed loggerheads can “live up to 50 years or more,” according to the National Wildlife Federation.

“Based on shell size, we know it is an adult,” said the aquarium on Facebook, “but a more exact estimate isn’t available at the moment. To put that into perspective, loggerheads take as long as 20 years to reach maturity!”

MERR Institute in Lewes, Delaware, is a marine research and rehabilitation nonprofit dedicated to helping stranded “marine mammals and sea turtles,” according to its Facebook page.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
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