Norwalk aquarium asks boaters to help prevent turtle deaths

A loggerhead sea turtle, the species of turtle found dead from boat-propeller strikes in Long Island Sound. The Maritime Aquarium is reminding boaters that sea turtles are in the Sound at this time of year and asking that they take simple precautions to avoid collisions. (Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk)

NORWALK — A Connecticut aquarium is asking boaters to help avoid more turtle deaths.

The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk is asking boaters on Long Island Sound to slow down after the deaths of two sea turtles in the last month.

The aquarium says a juvenile sea turtle, believed to be a loggerhead turtle, was found near Norwalk’s Sheffield Island on Thursday, with ‘three obvious propeller gouges’ in its shell. A loggerhead sea turtle was found in Stratford in July, dead from a boat strike. Another loggerhead was found in Branford last summer, also reportedly killed by a boat propeller.

Four species of sea turtles swim around the Sound during the summer, including the Kemp’s ridley and leatherback turtles, which are endangered. The loggerhead and green turtle species are listed as ‘threatened’. The summer is also the height of the boating season, and turtles are least able to make avoidance maneuvers when they surface to breathe or warm themselves in the sun.

The aquarium recommends boaters reduce speeds in shallow waters and near sea grasses, where some turtles feed.

If a boat strike occurs, or if an injured or dead turtle is found, boaters should call Mystic Aquarium, which is the federally designated responder to marine mammal and sea turtles strandings and entanglements in Connecticut. The number is (860) 572-5955, ext. 107.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.