(CNS): Conservation officers on Grand Cayman came to the rescue of a juvenile hawksbill turtle at the weekend that was entangled in discarded fishing line. The Department of Environment officers were called to help on Saturday in the North Sound after a member of the public spotted the endangered sea turtle in difficulty but was not able to free it. The DoE officers disentangled the juvenile turtle before releasing it back into the sea in the Rum Point channel. While this case had a happy ending, the DoE officers said they are still seeing far too many sea creatures becoming entangled in bundles of discarded fishing line.
“The conservation officers who responded Saturday pulled in a lot of fishing line from the water,” said Mark Orr, DoE chief conservation officer. “This is another reminder to the public to please recycle fishing line, rather than just tossing it away.”
DoE Research Officer Janice Blumenthal said entanglement in discarded fishing line is one of the most serious threats to juvenile turtles in Cayman. “Fishing line is nearly invisible underwater and causes drowning and severe injuries, such as flipper amputations. Even if unwanted fishing line is sent to the landfill, it can continue to entangle birds and other animals. Fishing line takes more than 600 years to degrade.”
The DoE has nearly 40 recycling bins for discarded fishing line around all three islands and urges fishermen and other members of the public to use those bins, rather than casting their old or used lines on the beach or into the sea.
Most public boat-launching ramps have a fishing line recycling bin and many fishing stores and dive shops have the bins as well. Whether fishing from the shore or from a boat, officials asked fisherfolk to keep the unwanted fishing line until it can be deposited at a recycling location. Cayman has recycled more than 200 pounds of old and discarded fishing lines since the bins were set up.
The DoE thanked the member of the public who called for assistance in rescuing the turtle from a life-threatening situation.
Anyone seeing a turtle in danger around the islands can contact the DoE immediately on a 24-hour telephone hotline 938-6378 and provide as much information about the incident as possible when calling.
For more information about fishing line recycling, and/or turtles, visit the DoE website