A mature leatherback sea turtle washed up dead on the shore of Old Field village on Sunday afternoon, an official from The Riverhead Foundation has confirmed.
Kim Durham, rescue program director, said in a Monday afternoon interview with Patch that it is unclear how the sea turtle died as a necropsy has yet to be performed.
Durham said it's also unclear whether it is a male or a female, but said the animal is between five-and-a-half and six feet long. A mature adult of this species can weigh up to 800 pounds.
She said reports of leatherback turtle sightings have come in this summer mostly from Long Island's East End, as the turtles feed on jellyfish and there have been reports of a lot of jellyfish this season.
"It's uncertain if this animal was alive in the Long Island Sound or if it just floated in," Durham said.
The carcass of the sea turtle also had gill net – a type of net typically used in fisheries – wrapped around its right front flipper, though Durham could not say for sure whether that had contributed to the turtle's death. The carcass also showed signs of some kind of trauma on its right side.
It is unclear how the turtle will be disposed of, though Durham said options include both burying it and removing it from the property.
Durham said a resident of the Village of Old Field discovered the animal and reported it to The Riverhead Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operates the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program.