SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - As the weather gets warmer and more people start heading down to the beach, marine officials are asking everyone to keep their eyes open for any stranded sea turtles.
NOAA Fisheries is asking anyone who comes across a stranded turtle to contact marine officials immediately. A stranded sea turtle is one found washed ashore or floating, and it can be alive or dead. If it is alive, marine life experts say it is generally in a weakened condition.
Stranded sea turtles are often found on the coastal beaches and the barrier islands. They are also often found in the water by boaters in bays, passes, and the Gulf of Mexico.
According to NOAA, this time of year tends to be the most dangerous for sea turtles. Even though they can be found throughout the entire year, marine officials say they are most often found in spring and early summer.
If you see a sick, injured, or dead sea turtle, please call the Mississippi Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network at 228-369-4796. Trained staff members at the center will determine how best to respond.
It's important that you report stranded sea turtles so biologists can document them. Turtles that are still alive will be rehabilitated by local facilities. Turtles that are dead will sometimes be salvaged for necropsy and research.
For your safety and the safety of the turtle, NOAA advises that you don't try to move or pick up the animal. They also ask that you be prepared with an exact address or location for where the sea turtle is, as well as information on if it's alive or dead and its approximate size. You may also be asked to text pictures of the animal to the rescue team.