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Officials: Nesting loggerhead turtle run over while laying eggs on NC beach

Officials believe the turtle had just begun to lay eggs into a nest dug in the beach when she was struck.
Credit: National Park Service
View of Ramp 49 entrance from the beach.

The National Park Service says 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. 

At 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, staff at Cape Hatteras National Seashore say they found a dead loggerhead sea turtle on the beach, just south of Ramp 49 in Frisco, NC. It is likely that the sea turtle died from a vehicle collision.

Early this morning, the female sea turtle came onto the beach to lay a nest in the sand, according to officials. She had begun to lay eggs into a nest dug in the beach when they believed a vehicle struck and ran over the turtle. Intact eggs were discovered near the dead loggerhead sea turtle and are thought to be viable.

Observations suggest the time of the apparent collision was one or more hours prior to 5:30 a.m., during a time where the route was closed to off road vehicle use.

“At this time of year, ocean-facing off road vehicle ramps are closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for an important reason – to protect nesting sea turtles. It is very unfortunate that a vehicle appears to have disregarded the Seashore’s regulations which has resulted in this turtle death,” stated Superintendent David Hallac.

Visitors are reminded that sea turtles, while predominately nesting during nighttime hours, may be present on park beaches at any hour of the day. Loggerheads are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Park officials are asking the public for information about a vehicle driving on the beach at Ramps 49 or 48 in Frisco between 9:00 p.m. on May 24 and 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Anyone with information that may help determine the circumstances and events that led to the death of this sea turtle are asked to contact the Dare County Community CrimeLine or the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch (ISB).

National Park Service ISB Tip Line:

  • Call or text the ISB Tip Line at 888-653-0009

  • Online at www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip”