Sea turtle dragged fishing gear including 2 rods, hooks, weights and part of tire, Florida rescuers say – The Virginian-Pilot
A 217-pound sea turtle had to be rescued off the Florida Panhandle after closer inspection revealed it was dragging enough fishing gear to outfit a tour group.
This includes fishing rods, hooks, weights and spools of fishing line, according to the Gulfarium CARE Center in Fort Walton Beach.
The loggerhead’s fate was discovered on Tuesday, July 5, after it “was trapped” by fishermen, the Okaloosa Island Pier reported. The pier is at Fort Walton Beach, about 165 miles west of Tallahassee.
“She had two rods and lots (of) fishing lines and even part of a tire trailing behind her,” the pier wrote in a Facebook post.
“We cannot be grateful enough to our staff and a few local fishermen for stepping in to save this big girl! Our staff had to go swimming with the Gulfarium Grounding Team (CARE Center) to get her in!
A photo shows the turtle was transported in the bed of a van to the Gulfarium CARE Center.
Tabitha Siegfried, stranding coordinator for the center, told McClatchy News that fishing gear was tangled around her right front fin.
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Further inspection revealed that the knot contained “10 or more hooks”. However, only one hook was embedded in the turtle’s skin and it has since been removed, Siegfried said.
It is suspected that the fishing rods had been attached to the turtle for a few weeks. If the turtle hadn’t been spotted in time, the lines could have tightened, causing the fin to fall off, she said.
The case is an example of why anglers should never “cut their line” if it becomes entangled with a sea turtle of any kind, she said.
The Gulfarium CARE Center is a Fort Walton Beach nonprofit that “promotes the rehabilitation and release of all species of stranded sea turtles.” He has saved nearly 85 endangered sea turtles so far this year.
Loggerheads are the most common species in the area and April through September is their nesting season, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
There was no evidence the rescued turtle had nested, but it is sexually mature, Siegfried said. (Sexual maturity is between 25 and 30 years for the species, she said.)
Adult loggerheads can weigh up to 350 pounds and live “70 years or more,” according to NOAA Fisheries.