Nesting loggerhead turtle found dead, investigation underway

In this June 30, 2019, photo, a loggerhead sea turtle returns to the ocean after nesting on Ossabaw Island, Ga. The giant, federally protected turtles are having an egg-laying boom on beaches in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, where scientists have counted record numbers of nests this summer. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources via AP)

MANTEO — The National Park Service said Monday it is investigating after a nesting loggerhead sea turtle was found dead on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach, with signs that the creature was run over by a vehicle.

The female turtle came onto the beach early Monday morning and had begun to lay eggs in a nest in the sand, according to a news release from the federal park. That’s when it is believed, based on evidence found at the scene, that a motor vehicle struck the the turtle, the news release said.

Intact eggs thought to be viable were discovered nearby, the park said. Loggerheads are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Observations suggest the apparent collision happened during a time where the route was closed to off-road vehicle use, the news release said.

“It is very unfortunate that a vehicle appears to have disregarded the Seashore’s regulations which has resulted in this turtle death,” Superintendent David Hallac said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dare County Community CrimeLine or the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch.