Mysterious deaths of turtles reported at Chula Vista golf course

The mysterious deaths of turtles have been reported at Chula Vista Executive Golf Course in The Villages.

Residents have been contacting about the weekend die-off of all sizes of turtles.

This dead turtle was spotted Saturday at Chula Vista Executive Golf Course.

The deaths of four turtles were confirmed Saturday by Director of Executive Golf Mitch Leininger. A resident reported the dead turtles to a golf superintendent.

The matter is being looked into, but an official indicated it will be difficult to determine the turtles’ cause of death.

Whatever killed the turtles, apparently had no impact on ducks and geese in the area, according to residents.

Dead turtles were spotted Saturday at Chula Vista Executive Golf Course.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last year began to investigate a die-off of freshwater turtles.

In March 2018, the FWC began to receive reports of sick and dead Florida softshells and cooters in the St. Johns River. Approximately 300 sick or dead turtles have been reported that may be related to this ongoing mortality event. Sick and dead turtles have been found along the St. Johns River (SJR) watershed from the headwaters near Palm Bay in the south, to Crescent Lake and Palatka in the north. Additional reports of dead turtles have been received from Lake Apopka, Eustis, Windermere and Cocoa Beach.

To determine the cause of the turtle mortalities, the FWC began a collaborative investigation with the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine (UF-CVM) Wildlife Aquatic Veterinary Disease Laboratory (WAVDL), UF-CVM Aquatic Amphibian and Reptile Pathology Program, Office of Protected Resources (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries), and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (BADDL). To date, 18 turtles collected by the FWC from the SJR watershed have been examined by wildlife veterinarians at FWC and UF laboratories in Gainesville. Initial findings suggested a viral infection contributed to the mortalities. Virologists at BADDL and WAVDL discovered a novel virus associated with diseased Florida softshell turtles (Apalone ferox), peninsula cooters (Pseudemys peninsularis) and Florida red-bellied cooters (P. nelsoni). Toxins, including those produced by harmful algal blooms, were not detected in any turtles tested. There have been no reports of dead fish or other wildlife in conjunction with the turtle die-offs, according FWC.

Sightings of sick or dead turtles can be reported to the FWC by calling (352) 339-8597 or through the FWC Reporter App