Baby turtle appears on beach during music festival in Seaside Heights

     A video frame from a video posted on Instagram and tagged #JSHN by @emmily0314.

    A video frame from a video posted on Instagram and tagged #JSHN by @emmily0314.

    Not only was the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover festival last weekend in Seaside Heights a resounding success, but some people were even able to do good while they were there.

    While watching one of the music performances on the beach early Saturday afternoon, Emily W. saw a woman doing something unusual.

    “We were hanging back from the stage, and I noticed she kept bending down to look at something,” she said. 

    Much to her surprise, as Emily walked over with a friend, she noticed a baby turtle moving on the sand toward the ocean. 

    “We called our friend who is in school for marine/environmental science, and he told us that a sea turtle in Seaside would be super rare,” Emily said, “but if it really was a sea turtle the best thing to do would be to dig a path toward the ocean and to make sure no birds get him.”

    So they started digging (watch the video here) but soon hit a roadblock. 

    A security guard protecting the shoreline stopped them from getting closer to the ocean but offered to complete the task. 

    “The security lady said that if he popped back up on the beach, she would just bring him home and then call animal welfare in the morning. Either way, it was awesome to run in to such a little cutie,” she said gleefully. 

    Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, analyzed a video frame and identified the turtle as a northern diamondback terrapin hatchling from last year. (We recently wrote about Wurst’s work with terrapins here.)

    He said that while the video is “very cool,” this type of turtle is found near brackish waters, like the Barnegat Bay, and not on the oceanside beach, adding that terrapins are not an ocean species. 

    Dominick Solazzo, a South Seaside Park naturalist, offered a theory on how the turtle arrived at the music festival without a ticket. 

    “The only likely way a baby terrapin could make it out of the bay, across Route 35, then through the concrete jungle of Seaside Heights would be if it was snatched and dropped by a bird,” he said.

    “Little guy had a bad day.”

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