BOSTON (AP) – Officials at NOAA Fisheries Service are warning boaters to watch out for leatherback sea turtles, which are crowding waters off southeastern Massachusetts.

Karen Dourdeville of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary says nearly 100 sightings of the rare turtle have been reported by boaters since June. That’s most since the society established a sightings hotline six years ago.

The greater numbers of the animals are leading to more reports about dead, stranded or injured leatherbacks. Officials say many have slash wounds that are likely from boat propellers.

Scientists say large numbers of jellyfish near shore way be drawing the turtles because jellyfish are the turtles’ main prey.

AP-ES-08-28-08 1640EDT

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