FRISCO, N.C. — Staff with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore found a dead loggerhead sea turtle on the beach this morning around 5:30 a.m. They found her just south of Ramp 49 in Frisco, North Carolina.
According to a release from the National Park Service, the turtle was likely killed by a car.
The finding is especially grim, since loggerheads are listed as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act.
"Early this morning, the female sea turtle came onto the beach to lay a nest in the sand. She had begun to lay eggs into a nest dug in the beach when it is believed, based on evidence found at the scene, that a motor vehicle struck and ran over the turtle," wrote a spokesperson for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The release said the accident likely happened at least an hour before the turtle was found, when the beach would have been legally closed to off-road vehicles.
"Intact eggs were discovered near the dead loggerhead sea turtle and are thought to be viable," wrote the spokesperson.
Superintendent David Hallac said the seashore had already imposed rules intended to prevent this kind of accident.
"At this time of year, ocean-facing off road vehicle ramps are closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for an important reason – to protect nesting sea turtles," he wrote. "It is very unfortunate that a vehicle appears to have disregarded the Seashore’s regulations which has resulted in this turtle death."
Right now, the National Park Service is investigating the accident, and is asking anyone with information about a driver on the beach (between 9 p.m. on May 24 and 5:30 a.m. on May 25) to come forward.
Call the Dare County crime line at 252.473.3111 or the National Park Services Investigations line at 888.653.0009 if you have a tip.