A Rare 2-headed Loggerhead Turtle Was Found Alive at North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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The animals that live at North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore "adapt continually," the National Park Service's site says. But a discovery last week marked an unusual find for the area: a two-headed loggerhead sea turtle.

In a video shared on its Facebook page on Aug. 17, the park showed the turtle with one shell and one body, but two functioning heads. "Are two heads really better than one?! It's not every day that park biologists find a two-headed sea turtle," the caption read.

Two-headed turtle hatchling found in Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Two-headed turtle hatchling found in Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Courtesy of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

One user commented that it seemed as if both heads and all four flippers worked well, to which Cape Hatteras National Seashore replied, "This particular hatchling was released in the ocean along with the others found at the bottom of the nest during an excavation. And yes, you are correct! Park biologists identified it had good flipper function and was exhibiting overall good health."

Another user asked if the creature was taken in for care first, but park officials said that wasn't necessary. "There are many genetic deformities sea turtles can exhibit, but this one was experiencing good health and had good flipper function once in the water," the park replied.

Two-headed turtle hatchling found in Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Two-headed turtle hatchling found in Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Courtesy of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The park also identified the turtle as a loggerhead, which is the most abundant nesting species of sea turtle in the country, but listed under the Endangered Species Act, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They can live 70 to 80 years or more, but the outlook isn't so good for this hatchling. "It seemed to be exhibiting good health, but because of its genetic mutation, it's unlikely it will survive as long as some others," the park officials wrote.

USA Today reported that each of the heads was given its own name: Squirt and Crush.

A month ago, another two-headed turtle hatchling was found in South Carolina at Edisto Beach State Park during nest inventory, according to The Post and Courier. That creature was also released. Another had also been previously found in Hilton Head Island in 2019.