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Marine experts warn against harming turtles

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MOREHEAD CITY, NC (AP) -- North Carolina Marine Fisheries agents are warning fishermen and beach-goers to look out for endangered sea turtles as the large reptiles move into coastal waters as temperatures warm.

Sea turtles have been spotted in the ocean near Cape Lookout, Beaufort Inlet, Topsail Island, Oak Island and Long Beach. Some also have been seen in the Intracoastal Waterway near Oak Island and in Core Sound.

Biologists say the turtles spend most of the year at sea, but swim toward shore in spring to mate. Females venture onto beaches to nest and lay eggs.

All sea turtles found in North Carolina waters are protected by law.

Anyone accidentally catching a turtle should release it unharmed. If the turtle is lethargic or comatose, call the Sea Turtles Stranding Hotline at (252) 241-7367.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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