OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Over a dozen terrapins have been found dead in a crab pot in Ocean City.
Officials say 20 of the reptiles were discovered dead inside of the commercial pots last weekend.
Terrapins, which are land and water turtles, are the official state reptile of Maryland.
Maryland Coastal Bays Program spokeswoman Sandi Smith says that while terrapins spend a lot of time in water, they still have to breathe.
Smith says the reptiles also feed on similar foods as crabs do, so they’re attracted to the pots. But if they get stuck in the cages for too long they drown.
Officials say the terrapin deaths could have been prevented if there had been a device installed on the crab pot that doesn’t allow turtles to enter the pot and get trapped.