WALTON COUNTY, FL (RNN) – A member of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world was found dead after getting tangled in a bar stool near the beach on the Florida panhandle.
In a Facebook post, the nonprofit South Walton Turtle Watch posted pictures of the dead Kemp’s ridley sea turtle stuck in the legs of a bar stool.
“She was a critical endangered Kemps and of course she was dead. Look at her head to see what she went through. Poor thing it must have been an awful death. Why can't we keep things off the beach at night?” the post read.
A resident pulled the turtle’s body out of the ocean, a member of the group told WEAR.
The turtle's head was badly injured, probably as a result of its struggle with furniture that ended up in the Gulf of Mexico after either washing out to sea or falling off a boat, said Sharon Maxwell, who leads South Walton Turtle Watch, to the Northwest Florida Daily News.
“Normally they would perform a necropsy (to determine how the turtle died), but she was too far gone,” Maxwell said. “It’s really sad. There’s no way we can tell how or when she died. We hate it.”
South Walton Turtle Watch, a group of volunteers who work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to track and monitor sea turtles and their nests, said in its Facebook replies that the way to keep litter entrapment deaths from happening is to keep items off of the beach overnight.
"I've seen and pulled out of the water chairs and umbrellas left overnight. We've had storms come up, hard wind, lightening, etc. How many more things are now in Walton County waters that no one saw and took the time to pull out? The problem is easier to at least make a giant dent in if we get all the things off the beaches every single night!" the reply read.
The smallest of the sea turtles, Kemp's ridleys roam from the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast as far north as Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
The number of Kemp’s ridley nests declined a great deal during the 20th century, from about 40,000 nests in 1947 to a low of 702 nests in 1985, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
Officials said the activities of man - including harvesting of turtles and eggs, as well as accidental capture in commercial fishing - are the reasons Kemp’s ridley turtles are endangered.
Conservation efforts have helped the sea turtle’s population recover, with more than 20,000 nests in 2011, most of those on the Mexican shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
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