WEEKEND #14, 2008

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware


A dead sea turtle was recovered from the surf just south of Dickinson Avenue in Dewey Beach early Friday afternoon. Town officials contacted Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) to investigate.

Thurman (shown below) and her organization are recognized by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the State of Delaware as the official stranding respondents for marine mammals and sea turtles in Delaware. She, or one of her volunteer staff, typically respond and investigate all such discoveries in the state.

She studies the injuries and meticulously takes measurements using both calipers and a measuring tape, while a Dewey Beach lifeguard records the measurements for her.

Thurman speaks with the crowd of interested spectators about what she found after briefly studying the remains. She said the female loggerhead sea turtle suffered a wound approximately 21 by 9 inches likely caused by a dredge. Thurman noted that the endangered turtle was 39 inches long and weighs about 300 pounds.

She says the only way to determine the turtle's age is to take a slice of the humerus bone and send it to a lab in North Carolina. But from her size and shell appearance -- Thurman noted that loggerheads can reach ages of 65 or so -- she guesses the turtle may have been in her 40's based on the general shell condition.

This has been a remarkable quiet season, Thurman noted, with only five MERR responses to sea turtles so far during 2008. "Normally we would have well over 20 by now," she added. "The fishermen tell me that there was a band of cold water hovering along the coast, which definitely would have deterred sea turtles."

Dewey Beach lifeguards took turns digging a ditch near the dune fence where the remains were later buried.



Rehoboth Beach police, lifeguards and EMS workers (below) load a 51-year-old woman who suffered a possible spinal injury in the surf off Wilmington Avenue around 4:35 p.m. Sunday. She was taken to Beebe Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Rehoboth Beach lifeguards only called for an ambulance twice this weekend, unlike Ocean City, which started to see a spike in injuries on Saturday. Ocean City Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin says the tropical activity in the Atlantic is typically responsible for the increase in injuries this time of year.

Ocean City had seven EMS calls for neck-back injuries on Saturday and one for a dislocated shoulder. O.C. had six more EMS calls to the beach on Sunday, including one for a lifeguard with a cut to the head from a surfboard (he returned to work later in the day).

The only medevac for surf injuries anywhere along the shore this weekend was for a 29-year-old man who suffered a neck and back injury around 1:30 p.m. Sunday on 29th Street. He was flown to a trauma center as a precaution.

Earlier in the week, Rehoboth Beach EMS workers and police treated a 27-year-old man (below) who was semi-alert after suffering a surf injury off Baltimore Avenue around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday (lifeguards went off duty at 5 p.m.). He was taken to Beebe Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.



A Rehoboth Beach lifeguard returning from lunch this past week discovered a Dodge Caliber SXT parked in his reserved space on Pennsylvania Avenue. The beach patrol called police around 1:30 p.m. on Monday to have it ticketed and towed. Coastal Towing relocated the Dodge to the city's impound lot.

This was the only lunch-time tow from a guard spot this week. The Dodge had a Delaware license plate and a valid Rehoboth Beach parking permit. Look for the 2008 seasonal tow totals by street in next weekend's report!


A newly emerged cicada has just about come out of its shell in north Rehoboth late Friday evening. The cicada is in a teneral state in which it has not attained its mature coloring, making the specific species difficult to identify. For more on cicadas, including recipes, check out this University of Cincinnati Web site.

The Great Gray Slug (Limax maximus) is common in Rehoboth Beach, often found clinging to trash cans and flower pots. This one was crawling on a flag stone late Friday night.

The species is noted for its dark-spotted pale-gray body and the short keel on its tail. According to Wikipedia, these nocturnal mollusks can grow to be as long as eight inches, feeding mostly on rotting plant matter and fungi. They live for up to three years and are inactive during the winter.