Sea turtle crosses road near Rodanthe, prompting rescue

Published 5:13 pm Thursday, July 5, 2018

At 1:01 p.m. Thursday, multiple rescuers lugged the severely disoriented sea turtle across NC 12 and over a dune at the S-curves north of Rodanthe and released her into the Atlantic Ocean.

“She swam away nicely,” reported Paul Doshkov, a National Park Service biological science technician. “She came up for air.”

He estimated the sea turtle’s weight at 300 to 400 pounds. Her shell measured 3.29 feet.

The rescue adventure started when a park service maintenance employee spotted the sea turtle on his way to work. The turtle, likely a loggerhead, was wandering in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the soundside of NC 12. She had crawled over bare dune and crossed NC 12. Doshkov estimated by the time she was released she had been in the refuge about four hours.

To move the wayward loggerhead back to the ocean, sea turtle technicians from Buxton brought a special stretcher for live marine mammals. Rescuers rolled the turtle to one side and slid the stretcher under that side and repeated the process on the other side.

While the initial crew was waiting for the stretcher, the sea turtle was kept cool with wet towels.

A search was launched looking for eggs but none were found. The incident has been labeled a false crawl.

This is the third daytime visit by a sea turtle on Hatteras Island this season.

An alert visitor notified the Pea Island refuge about a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nesting during daytime.

Earlier this week, a loggerhead sea turtle was seen nesting during daylight hours north of Beach Access Ramp 25.

Also working on this sea turtle rescue were U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Becky Harrison, a summer intern and two law enforcement officials, one of whom directed traffic and the other who helped with moving the turtle back to the ocean.