By Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A Virginia Aquarium team had to euthanize a 700-pound (318-kilogram) sea turtle that became stranded on a beach.

The aquarium’s Stranding Response Team was called to a Norfolk beach Monday morning after beachgoers noticed the giant leatherback turtle on the shore, news outlets reported.

The Virginian-Pilot quoted nearby resident Alyssa Muhlendorf as saying that the group gathered on the beach could tell something was not right - there was blood on the turtle’s shell and the reptile spent hours walking in circles toward the water. Once it got in, it could not swim well and was repeatedly being washed ashore, witnesses said.

The team monitored the turtle and consulted with other agencies before deciding to euthanize the turtle Tuesday, aquarium spokeswoman Natalie Sims said.

“The team made the humane decision to euthanize in order to not prolong suffering,” she said.

Leatherbacks, a vulnerable species, can grow to be up to 7 feet long (2 meters long) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms), according to experts.

“These are powerful swimmers. They should be able to handle some rough surf,” Susan Barco, a senior scientist on the response team added. “We feel confident the turtle was not going to survive in the wild.”

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