Green Turtle found dead at Lions Park

[photo: Alden Tagarino]

A Green Turtle was found on Thursday, Feb 16, still in the water at the shoreline at Lion's Park behind the Tennis Court area, by locals who contacted Deputy Director Pili Gaoteote of the Department of Parks and Recreation ( 2nd from right). Gaoteote called the police, who in turn informed DMWR of the stranded turtle.

Alden Tagarino, Wildlife Biologist at the Department of Marine and Wildlife, who responded to the call said, “The call came in at around 1:30pm and I got to the scene at around 2pm.”

Under U.S. law, the Green Turtle (Species: Chelonia mydas) is considered an endangered species. The Green Turtle, along with the Hawksbill Turtle are the two of the most commonly seen turtles in the territory, and a few islands of American Samoa — specifically, Rose, Swains, and Ofu — are nesting places for these turtles.

Said Tagarino of the initial inspection, “There was no evidence of fishery interaction; there were no fishing lines or nets involved”. Tagarino suspects the turtle may have been ill for a while, and said it was “thin and emaciated” when it was found. He estimated that the turtle died within the last week.

This turtle had a Curved Carapace (shell) length of 47.9 cm and Carapace width of 42.5 cm. It weighed 19 lbs.

Skin samples were taken for genetic analysis off-island at Southwest Fishery Science Center in La Jolla, California, according to Tagarino, and the carcass is currently in the DMWR laboratory awaiting necropsy. The DMWR biologist says he is hopeful the necropsy will help them find the cause of death.

DMWR appreciates the public calling when they find dead wildlife; and they do have a Turtle Hotline— 733-5304 or 733-5306.


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