MANZANITA, Ore. – A rare sea turtle was found dead after it washed ashore on an Oregon beach with a whole ecosystem traveling with the reptile.
"After receiving photographs of the turtle, it was clear that the turtle had been dead for quite some time before washing ashore," the aquarium said in a Facebook post.
When cleaning its shell, so a positive identification could be made, live gooseneck barnacles, skeleton shrimp and nudibranchs were found.
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Sea turtles are not uncommon along the Oregon coast, and the species usually encountered are Olive Ridleys, according to the aquarium. These endangered turtles can be found worldwide and have nine distinct populations.
"In the Pacific, there are two different populations which both nest exclusively in the Japanese Archipelago," the aquarium said. "Juveniles forage, develop, and mature in the East, West and Central Pacific. Some of the most productive foraging grounds can be found off the coast of Baja California."
One of the biggest 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 turtles’ detrimental and often fatal interactions with marine debris, according to NOAA.
The aquarium said a necropsy will be scheduled to attempt to determine the cause of sea turtle's death.