While the circumstances surrounding the mass death are under investigation, authorities believe that the turtles became entangled in a nearly 400-foot-long net and subsequently drowned.
Marine biologist Bryan Wallace, a senior scientist with Conservation Science Partners and an assistant professor at Duke University, believes a “ghost net” is to blame.
“[Ghost nets] are nets that, for one reason or another, have become lost by their operators and basically continue to fish as they drift,” Wallace told The Dodo. “It can happen when there’s a big storm that comes through, which can detach the nets from their anchors or buoys.”
“They can clearly cause quite a problem because, though they are not actively fished by people, they continue to operate as nets, and even more indiscriminately,” Wallace added.