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Rare, 5-Foot Long Leatherback Sea Turtle Found Dead On Suffolk County Beach

Kimberly Durham of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society assesses the sea turtle near Callahan's Beach in Fort Salonga.
Kimberly Durham of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society assesses the sea turtle near Callahan's Beach in Fort Salonga. Photo Credit: Atlantic Marine Conservation Society via Instagram

A massive 5-foot sea turtle was found dead on Long Island.

The rare leatherback sea turtle was spotted washed up on Callahan’s Beach in Fort Salonga in Suffolk County on Wednesday, July 24, officials said.

The male turtle had several lacerations on its back that indicate it may have been struck by a boat, officials with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society noted.

The animal was buried nearby, though it reportedly weighed approximately 700 pounds.

According to the New York State Department of Conservation, “as water temperatures begin to rise in late spring and early summer, the waters of New York become more suitable for sea turtles. 

"During these warming months, there are several species of sea turtles that visit New York waters: green, Kemp's ridley, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. They can be found from May through November in waters off Long Island, including Long Island Sound and Long Island's eastern bays. By the end of November, they'll migrate south in search of warmer waters.”

In New York, leatherback sea turtles are endangered.

“The leatherback sea turtle is a unique and phenomenal species. They are one of the largest reptiles on Earth; they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and reach up to two meters long, nearly the length of a standard door. 

"The leatherback sea turtle gets its name from its large, barrel-shaped body covered with leathery skin (as opposed to the hard, bony shells of other species found in New York). Leatherbacks are the most pelagic sea turtle and, due to their flexible shell, can dive up to 4,200 feet for as long as 85 minutes.”

The Atlantic Marine Conservation said that 13 sea turtles have been stranded on New York shores this year, including nine that suffered from apparent vessel strikes.

“Please be aware when on the water that these animals are sharing our seas! If you do sight a sea turtle swimming, please give it space,” the organization posted online. “If you see an injured or deceased marine mammal or sea turtle, please call the NYS Stranding Hotline immediately at (631) 369-9829.”

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