An Oregon beach recently became the final resting place of a rare sea turtle, which had washed ashore carrying a whole ecosystem along with it. The Seaside Aquarium, which recovered the animal, reported that the 75-pound loggerhead was discovered on the south end of Manzanita Beach on a Saturday morning. The aquarium also stated that upon receiving photographs of the turtle, it became clear that it had been dead for quite some time before washing ashore.
While cleaning the turtle's shell to make a positive identification, live gooseneck barnacles, skeleton shrimp, and nudibranchs were discovered. Although sea turtles are not uncommon along the Oregon coast, Olive Ridleys are the species typically encountered, according to the aquarium. These endangered turtles can be found worldwide and have nine distinct populations. In the Pacific, two different populations exclusively nest in the Japanese Archipelago, with juveniles foraging, developing, and maturing in the East, West, and Central Pacific. Some of the most productive foraging grounds can be found off the coast of Baja California.
The aquarium further revealed that one of the major threats to loggerhead sea turtles is marine debris. Foraging loggerheads respond similarly to the odors of prey items and biofouled plastic, the scent of which stimulates foraging behavior and contributes to the turtles' detrimental and often fatal interactions with marine debris, according to NOAA.
A necropsy will be scheduled to determine the cause of the sea turtle's death, the aquarium said.