Endangered loggerhead turtle's death investigated

Turtle may have been fatally injured by ATV on Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A mystery is surrounding the death of an endangered 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle found Monday morning on Miami Beach.

"This particular turtle, it appeared to have died after nesting," said Teal Kawana, with Miami-Dade County's Sea Turtle Conservation Program. "There was a nest directly behind her and then the turtle was a little further east of the nest."

She said it looked like a "normal, healthy turtle."

But marine biologists said a few minor cuts can be seen on the turtle's neck, along with a cracked shell.

The cause of death still under investigation, but it's believed that an all-terrain vehicle could be to blame after tire marks were found in the sand nearby.

"The turtle has been taken to a facility to hopefully (have a necropsy) sometime in the near future," Kawana said.

The turtle's eggs were not destroyed, but Kawana said what happened on Miami Beach should serve as a reminder to the public about respecting the ecosystem.

Right now, Miami-Dade County has nearly 300 nesting sites across 18 miles of beach, so residents are cautioned to be on the lookout while on the sand.

"If you do happen to come across the nesting sea turtle, to leave her alone, let her do what she's supposed to be doing naturally," Kawana said. "We want sea turtles to return to this beach in the future."