Diver rescues tangled turtle from fishing line

| 02/10/2015 | 5 Comments
Cayman News Service

Joaquin Puig at Don Foster’s Dive Cayman

(CNS) A diver from Don Foster’s Dive Cayman saved the life of a critically endangered hawksbill turtle this week by untangling it from a discarded fishing line. Joaquin Puig rescued the turtle at the Meridian Drop Off, a dive site on Seven Mile Beach. “I spotted the turtle and I thought she was eating but when I arrived close to her I realized that she was tangled with fishing line,” Puig said. “She almost couldn’t move and when I started to cut the line she didn’t move at all. I think she realized that I was helping her. Once I cut the line she started to swim slowly to the surface to take a breath.”

Entanglement in lost and discarded fishing line is one of the most severe threats to juvenile turtles in the Cayman Islands, according to the Department of Environment, which is urging people to help keep old lines out of the ocean and away from the coastlines.

See video of rescue on Facebook

With sponsorship from Atlantis Submarines, the DoE has installed fishing line recycling bins at dive shops at popular shore diving sites and at fishing supply shops. Bins will also soon be in place at boat launching ramps across the three islands thanks to pole installation donated by CUC.

The most serious of the many threats facing young turtles, fishing line can tangle on the reef and they swim into it. When they struggle, loops of line tangle around their neck and flippers, causing severe injuries or death from amputation and infection -— or they drown when they cannot break lines to reach the surface. The DoE said there are several such cases each year as they urged people who are fishing not to throw tangled line in the sea or onshore. Tangled or used line should be discarded in fishing line recycling bins. If it is left in the marine or terrestrial environment or sent to the landfill, it can continue to entangle wildlife.

“Divers and snorkelers can help by carrying scissors or dive knives to cut lines off the reef. If you are collecting line, it is important to cut it rather than pulling it, so you don’t damage your hands or corals and sponges. Also, coil the line or cut it into sections so you can’t become tangled. And always watch out for hooks,” the DoE experts advised.

If anyone finds a turtle tangled in fishing line they are asked to call the DoE immediately.

If the line is very tightly wrapped around the flippers, it is best for a veterinarian to remove the line to avoid causing further injuries and so that treatment can start immediately after the line is removed.

If you accidentally hook a turtle, call DoE for assistance in unhooking it safely.

Contact the DoE at 949-8469 or email [email protected]. In emergencies the Chief Enforcement Officer can be reached at 916-4271. Or call the Turtle Hotline 938-NEST (938-6378)

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (5)

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  1. Sharkey says:

    I think that this is caused by, inexperienced, careless, irresponsible people who are fishing on boats, and from shoreline. Like trolling in 50 ft of water with 100 ft of line out into the water , then gets snagged on the bottom , then cutting the line. Do not fish with bad line/old/chaffed/rotten line, do not get your line tangled up and cut it and throw it in the water.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Shore fishing is a scourge on this land. Fishing lines and squid boxes thrown down all over. Most fishermen are slobs and care nothing about sustainability.


  3. Shoeless Joe From Dog City says:

    Should have held on to it andet it grow some in time to be slaughtered and fed to the Oasis class passengers at the grand opening of the concrete monstrosity. Those responsible will already have blood on their hands in any event.


  4. Cheese Face says:

    Good job!

    I’m a fisherman or woman, and never throw any line (or anything non organic) into the sea. I remember diving stingray many years ago and removing a hook and line from a small fish that was pretty much tied to a rock. Not a nice situation for anyone to be in!



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