INDIALANTIC, Fla. - A large female loggerhead sea turtle was found dead along a busy Florida roadway.
Brevard County sheriff's deputies say it was run over by a car on State Road A1A in Indialantic. Deputies received a call at 5:16 a.m. on Wednesday reporting a "traffic obstruction on the roadway." When they realized what it was, they called in the experts.
"Our crew members were devastated going out to respond to it," said Erin Seney, a research professor with the University of Central Florida’s Turtle Marine Research Group. "It’s an unusual occurrence."
Seney says UCF’s Turtle Marine Research Group first tagged this turtle when she nested along the shore of Indialantic back in 2014.
"In 2014, she had an injured front flipper. She was missing part of a front flipper. When we saw her yesterday, she also had injuries to two of her rear flippers. And a turtle needs her flippers, particularly her rear flippers to dig a nest," Seney explained.
Through the loggerhead's tracks left in the sand, officials re-traced her steps. After swimming ashore, she tried to dig two nests on the beach before walking up the sand dune attempting a third dig and then a fourth about 10 feet further west. The large turtle crushed some seagrass as she walked down a family’s lawn then onto a neighbor’s property before ending up on A1A.
"In her meandering, trying to nest – unfortunately, not able to dig a full nest -- she kept wandering," Seney said. "At this time, it seems several factors contributed. [We're] not sure if light was a factor or not."
The turtle appears to have been run over by more than one car. Out of this tragedy comes hope.
"Since she didn’t successfully nest, did still have eggs that were ready to incubate in her body, they were collected very carefully," Seney said.
At the direction of Florida Fish and Wildlife, UCF’s Turtle Marine Research group collected and buried 70 of the loggerhead’s eggs in the sand, near where the turtle had made her first two attempts.
"Because the eggs were fertilized and just about to be laid, there’s actually a pretty good chance that some of them if not all of them will hatch," said Seney.
Sea turtle nesting season runs from March 1 through October 31. Nearly 70% of the nation's sea turtle nesting takes place on Florida's beaches.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.