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Why are so many endangered green sea turtles showing up in Dana Point Harbor? – Orange County Register

DANA POINT Damian Collins couldn’t believe what he saw when he looked out the window of Waterman’s Harbor restaurant Thursday at Dana Point Harbor.

A 4-foot-wide green sea turtle was swimming near the boat ramp just feet from his restaurant. Then the turtle climbed up the ramp.

Just days before, Collins saw a handful of much smaller sea turtles doing the same thing in the area.

“They’re all over the harbor,” Collins said. “Everyone has been running over to the windows to look.”

The sightings of the green sea turtles, rarely are seen in Orange County, have prompted calls to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. The center is permitted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to rescue the endangered turtles.

Center staff will head to Dana Point Harbor over the next few days to see if there is something causing distress to the sea turtles, which are not generally seen this far north, said Keith Matassa, executive director of the marine mammal center.

Collins and others who commented on the video he posted on Facebook said they wondered if the sudden turtle sights could have something to do could with the juvenile great white sharks less than a mile away at Capistrano Beach.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and never seen these turtles,” he said, adding that they looked “freaked-out.”

“Most of the comments on Facebook were saying the same thing, that they have never seen a turtle in these waters,” he said.

Jeff Seminoff, who leads the sea turtle research program for NOAA, said sharks likely have nothing to do with the turtle sightings. Sea turtles are used to them, he said.

“It is unusual to hear they are crawling up on boat ramps,” he said.

Seminoff said the green sea turtles come from nesting beaches in Mexico. In the last few years, more of them have been seen north of Mexico, which to him and other scientists is something very positive.

“The green turtle recovery program is one of the best conservation…

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