Marine experts: Watch for entangled sea turtles

CCS Marine Animal Entanglement Response team works to free entangled leatherback turtle. (Credit: CCS image taken under NOAA permit 50 CFR 222.310)

TRURO, Mass. (WPRI) — Environmental experts are urging mariners to keep an eye out for entangled leatherback sea turtles and report them immediately.

An 800-pound leatherback was found dead about a mile south of Woods Hole Saturday. Marine biologists with the New England Aquarium said the endangered creature had injuries consistent with entanglement in marine gear.

Also on Saturday, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team, along with the Coast Guard and Truro Harbor Master, freed a 4.5-foot leatherback off Pamet Harbor in Cape Cod Bay.

The center said the turtle suffered relatively minor injuries and swam off vigorously once released from entanglement.

Leatherbacks migrate to the New England area to feed in late summer and early fall, according to the CCS, but this was the latest entanglement on record for Massachusetts over the past decade.

The CCS said they were able to free the turtle because it was reported by a concerned mariner, and the Coast Guard stood by until their team arrived.

If you spot an entangled leatherback, you’re asked to stay with the turtle at a safe distance and call the Coast Guard or the Center for Coastal Studies hotline at 1-800-900-3622.

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