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Sad Find : Dozens Of Turtles Found Dead In Trap In Sea Isle City

Sad Find : Dozens Of Turtles Found Dead In Trap In Sea Isle City

Turtles apparently died after being caught in a crab trap and panicked.

SEA ISLE CITY, NJ – Longtime turtle lovers and rescuers Steve and Susan Ahearn have seen some sad sights during their decade as turtle lovers and rescuers.

But nothing prepared them for what they saw on a Sea Isle City beach on May 28 over Memorial Day weekend, after they received a call from the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol. Nothing.

Eighty-two turtles turtles lay dead on the sand, next to a commercial crab trap that someone had apparently opened in an effort to help them. But the turtles were already dead. They had apparently panicked and drowned after they became they couldn’t find their way out, Ahern said.

« I have never seen anything like that, » he said. « It was pretty awful. »

The couple contacted The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor and the state Department of Environmental Protections. The state Division of Fish & Wildlife is doing an investigation, Ahern said.

The crab trap lacked an « extruder, » which prevents crabs from getting out once they are caught, but keeps turtles and other small sea life from being trapped. Bait shops will give them out for free, he said.

« They are very easy to put on, » Ahern said. « They just do so much good. »

Just how the trap and the turtles ended up on the beach may never been known. Commercial crab trappers are required to have the extruders installed on their traps in most cases. But they are not required for deep water traps, he said.

This trap could have come deep water and floated all the way to shore, Ahern said.

Photos: Courtesy of Steve Ahern

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