Florida investigates mass softshell turtle die-off

About 100 softshell turtles have died since early 2018. ©Chad Weber, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating why softshell turtle species are dying off in droves in the state. Approximately 100 dead turtles have been reported along the St. Johns River watershed in Orange, Putnam and Seminole counties since early 2018. The Florida agency said it is monitoring the situation, which is primarily affecting the Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) — one of the largest freshwater turtles in the state — the Gulf Coast smooth softshell turtle (Apalone mutica calvata) and the Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera aspera). Some river cooters (Pseudemys concinna) have also been found dead. Tissue samples from the dead turtles have not yet revealed any trace of toxins, but a toxicology laboratory is currently taking a closer look, according to the Florida FWCC. 

Read more at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.