The Breach Report 6-26-13 (Updated). Giant Loggerhead Sea Turtles at The New Inlet, Robert Moses, Moriches, Nicholl Bay, and Maybe Shinnecock

All of a sudden, it seems like we are seeing loggerhead turtles not only in The New Inlet, but in several other places in the GSB and elsewhere. The ones in The Great South Bay were at The New Inlet (see below) and at Robert Moses, as previously noted, and as well in Nicholl Bay, where, sadly, one was found dead. Since the initial story went live, we’ve been getting further reports from CRESLI.org (The Coastal Research And Education Society of Long Island) that there’s a loggerhead in Moriches; we hear as well from one of our readers that they’ve seen an enormous turtle near The Shinnecock Inlet.  Loggerhead?   It would seem so.

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We should be blessed by this visitation, and should do our utmost to make their stay here a pleasant one. You can read more about loggerheads here on their Wikipedia page, or here on CRESLI’s page here.  To quote from CRESLI:

“The most abundant of all the marine turtles, these handsome creatures reach 4- 5 feet in length and weigh up to 400 – 500 pounds. Loggerheads are reddish brown on the back and orange – yellow underneath. They often acquire barnacles and seaweed growing on their shells

These turtles once nested throughout the tropics and as far north as Maryland in the US. Although they are still quite numerous, their nesting range has diminished as man has invaded coastal areas for housing and recreation. Several large nesting beaches in Florida and the Carolinas can still be found, and attempts by local residents to patrol beaches to protect nesting females and hatchlings are paying off.

Juvenile loggerheads regularly inhabit Long Island Sound and the eastern bays where they feed mainly on crustaceans and shellfish. Some adults can be found along the ocean shore and in New York Harbor. As with all sea turtles, loggerheads are long lived. A mature female loggerhead was documented to live 33 years in captivity, while estimates of their life expectancy range up to 60 – 75 years or more.”

Professor Artie Kopelman, Founder of CRESLI, offers the following advice in the wake of these sightings:

1. Should you think you see a loggerhead, try to photograph it, but will all due caution.
2. Keep your distance.  Cut your engine.  They are an endangered species.
3. Ideally get a picture of the pinkish area on the back of their heads.  That would help for later identification.
4. From there, email your picture to [email protected]  If the picture has EXIF data, all the better.
5. At the same time, report your sighting to The Riverhead Foundation.     Call their hotline at 631-369-9829.  Report any NY sea turtle or marine mammal sightings to them.

The first sighting was reported on our Facebook Group Page June 23rd. A loggerhead was swimming around The New Inlet at the very time we were out fishing and filming. “Mike T” in our group was out separately and had a nice encounter with it, snapping the picture you see here:

“Saw him as we were drifting from just east of the breach. Thought it was a school of fish at first. He was leaving a little wake. popped his head up. We were wowed. He swam around for a bit then disappeared. He popped up again an hour later after we came across the flats and anchored just to the NE of the old dock. He then swam around our boat for a bit. Beautiful creature. Some yahoo in a skiff was motoring real close to him though. we flagged down everyone going by to tell them he was in the water an to keep an eye out.”

That sighting prompted others to weigh in. There was one, according to “Surf Fire Island,” swimming by the Robert Moses Bridge 7 AM Saturday. He was worried it would be hit given all the boats in the area.   That led to reports of  additional sightings near The Robert Moses marina, and to the report that one was found dead at the mouth of Nicholl Bay, it’s death being investigated.   Another Facebook STGSB page visitor   then reported the large turtle near The Shinnecock Inlet, and that was followed up by  today’s sighting reported by CRESLI in Moriches.

As they love jelly fish, they are especially welcome visitors to our bays.  We need to watch out for them, and do what we can to assure that they return each year.