SAVANNAH, Ga. — An unusually high number of sea turtles are becoming stranded along the Georgia coast, and authorities say unseasonably warm ocean water temperatures are partly to blame.
More than two dozen dead sea turtles have been reported to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in the first 12 weeks of this year, The Savannah Morning News reported .
There are fewer than 10 such turtles during the same period in a typical year, said Mark Dodd, a DNR biologist who is the state’s sea turtle coordinator.
“To some extent the elevated rate is due in part to the warm water temperatures,” Dodd said.
Warm water draws the turtles inshore and into estuaries to feed. It’s here that they are also more likely to be hit by a boat.
Three species of turtles are represented in the strandings: Kemp’s Ridley, loggerhead and green turtles. Each is endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.