SEA ISLE CITY — In 50 years of working with the local beach patrol, Chief Renny Steele had seen a lot of animals wash up on shore. But that couldn't could prepare him for the dozens of dead turtles the patrol found on the beach last month.

Steele said a group of 65 diamondback terrapins was found washed up on shore on Memorial Day. The state Department of Environmental Protection is investigating what caused the turtles to wash up, but Steele said a commercial crab trap found nearby could be the best explanation.

While commercial crab traps are supposed to keep turtles out, Steele said this trap did not have the restrictors, which are meant to only let crabs in.

"At first when we got the call I was concerned about some kind of disease attacking the turtles," Steele said. "But then when we saw what it was, not that I was happy with all the dead turtles, but we realized it wasn't some kind of disease. It was probably caused by man."

The turtles were found around the 20th Street area, which does not have the heavy foot traffic of other parts, and as a result the beaches were not closed.

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