Waves of dead turtles are washing up on Long Island beaches, and researchers are scrambling to try to figure out why.
One theory is that the area's shellfish—the preferred meal of Diamondback terrapins—might be riddled with unusually high amounts of saxitoxin, which can lead to turtle paralysis. As a result, authorities have issued a temporary ban on shellfish harvesting, which impacts 4,000 acres off Riverhead, Southold and Southampton.
Scientists say that the increased saxitoxin levels are likely due to an infusion of nitrogen, which could be the result of pesticides from nearby golf courses, lawns, farms and septic systems infecting the delicate ecosystems of nearby harbors and bays.
The Riverhead Foundation and the Department of Environmental Conservation are currently performing necropsies on the turtles, of which roughly 100 have washed up with no signs of trauma.
“It is just heartbreaking. To see them washing up is just sad. Nothing we can do, our hands are tied,” Karen Testa, the founder of Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, told CBS.
The station also adds that "Diamondbacks are considered the puppy dogs of the turtle world," and that they "posses personality and it’s believed are able to recognize people." So if your day is looking like it might be too bright, go ahead and picture one hundred dead puppies washed up on the shore next to the ninth hole of your Hamptons' golf course. Happy Memorial Day!