Why was there an orange X on this dead sea turtle?
November 14, 2011 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Why was there an orange X on this dead sea turtle?

I spent this past weekend at Ponce Inlet, Florida. Last night as my friend and I were walking along the beach at dusk I saw in the distance what looked like a fake turtle resting on the sand. It turned out not to be fake at all; it was a real dead sea turtle, a large one that had probably died in the ocean and been washed ashore and was sitting there facing the sea, its mouth opened just a tad. It looked fairly bleached out but was intact--maybe a little bloated, but not much, and it didn't smell at all. Someone had spray-painted a big dayglo orange X on the turtle's back (shell) and a few stripes on its head. We looked at it for a while and then resumed our walk. A minute or so later, a man on a bike (the sand is firm enough there to ride bikes on--this is just south of Daytona Beach) asked us if we'd seen the turtle. We said yes, and he said "Someone's already marked it, so that's good" and rode on. I wanted to ask more, but he had ridden away. I've googled this but come up with nothing, so I'm asking you fair folk: Why the orange paint? By the time we made our return walk it was dark, and the paint wasn't glowing, so I don't think it was so people would see it and not trip over it or ride their bikes into it, and cars aren't allowed on that part of the beach. A while later, we noted that the tide was coming back in, and that the turtle would probably be washed back out to sea, so the paint seemed superfluous. Or something. I'm really curious if anyone can provide an explanation for the orange spray paint.
posted by ElizabethEllis to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The paint means the dead turtle has been reported to Florida Fish and Wildlife. It's to prevent multiple reports being generated by the sighting of one dead turtle.
posted by jamaro at 7:57 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you! I was so curious, and I wondered if it might be something like that. I wonder if they do an autopsy on dead sea animals--probably not. If you live in the area, you may know that there's red tide there right now. Someone where we were staying said that a few dead dolphins have washed up on shore in the last few weeks. Also, I apologize for the length of that question on the front page of AskMeFi. This was my first time asking a question, so I didn't realize it would all show up on the first page. I won't do it again.
posted by ElizabethEllis at 8:01 PM on November 14, 2011

They do actually autopsy as many dead marine mammals and sea turtles as they can.
posted by fshgrl at 8:04 PM on November 14, 2011

Technically, they are called necropsies, if you go searching. Autopsies are only done on humans.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:03 AM on November 15, 2011

Good question; I was running on the beach near Hatteras a year ago and found a dead turtle that loked "tagged." It didn't look scientific exactly so it was kind of disturbing. It was helpful to hear from the next ranger that that was a standard marking practice.

[Hey, newbie: maybe mark jamaro's answer as "best answer" and at least tag this "resolved"? Good practice---like spraying dead turtles or something.
posted by Mngo at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2011

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