The Times Of India reports that more than 300 olive ridley turtles have been found dead on Puri Beach in eastern India.
The publication notes that the turtles do on occasion wash up at this time of year, but a mass beaching of this size has people searching for answers.
While the cause of the mass death is not yet certain, initial theories suggest the animals may have been hit by fishing trawlers, the Times reporting that two ships have been seized in the area for illegal fishing.
Olive Ridley turtles are considered the most abundant sea turtle species, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Their range includes the tropical portions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Adults can weight about 100 pounds and reach about 2.5 feet long.
When nesting, the turtles gather just off shore and then head for the beach together, in a mass event known as an “arribada” (Spanish for arrival). Females nest once per year and make two trips to deposit up to 100 eggs per visit.
The trawlers were seized because they were in violation of a fishing ban period put in place to accommodate the turtles' nesting season.