Photographs of a female loggerhead turtle that was run over on Cape Hatteras National Seashore back in June told a pretty grim story. Amazingly, though, after seashore biologists placed 92 of her eggs in a nest cavity, six continued their incubation and hatched.
This year's nesting season has seen a record number of sea turtle nests at the seashore -- 153 -- but the fact that the six hatchlings somehow survived their mother's death would seem to be an even bigger story line.
"She had four clutches inside of her when she was run over," seashore wildlife biologist Britta Muiznieks said Tuesday, explaining that sea turtles can carry a number of different aged clutches at one time. "We created a nest cavity for the clutch we believe she would have laid had she not been run over and placed 92 eggs of her eggs into a nest cavity.
"The first emergence of hatchlings from this nest was documented on August 30 and when the nest was excavated we were able to document that the nest had produced six live hatchlings," said Ms. Muiznieks. "The rest of the eggs were either undeveloped (82) or only showed early stages of development (4). During the necropsy it was found that she had three additional clutches inside of her that were in various stages of development. These would most likely have been laid later this breeding season."
The crushed turtle's body was found early on June 24, leading Park Service officials to estimate that it was run over sometime between 10 p.m. June 23 and 6 a.m. June 24. Photos of the dead turtle clearly show that the vehicle rode right over it and then apparently became high-centered, as the driver backed up in an effort to free his rig, according to seashore officials.
While an off-road-vehicle group offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for running over and killing the turtle, as of Tuesday no arrests had been made, according to Ms. Muiznieks.