GEARHART - The beaches of Gearhart had an unusual gift wash up on shore Christmas Eve; a loggerhead turtle found its way to the North Coast sands.

The turtle, some four feet in length and weighing approximately 100 pounds, washed up on shore and was reported still alive when Seaside Aquarium staff came and retrieved the turtle.

However, according to aquarium director Keith Chandler, the turtle died some time in the night, or possibly even earlier.

"I think it expired that night," said Chandler. He said, however, that it was very hard to tell, particularly because the turtle is a reptile that may have been hypothermic, and was thus not moving much after it was recovered.

"There weren't any obvious wounds or problems," said Chandler. "It's too bad he wasn't alive, or didn't make it."

Aquarium staff have put the turtle on ice in the freezers while awaiting a reply from the Northwest Regional office of the National Marine Fisheries Service about whether staff there want the specimen for a necropsy.

Chandler said loggerhead turtles are usually further off shore and that this particular turtle appeared to be full-grown when it was found.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, loggerhead turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act as of 1978 and are threatened by encroachment upon nesting beaches around the world, incidental capture in fishing gear and the harvest of loggerheads in areas like Cuba, Mexico and the Bahamas.

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