Featured Image Credit: Maui Now
By Laura O’Brien
The federal fisheries stranding program has been operating in Hawaii for over 30 years, and on Friday, they released their 1,000th rehabilitated sea turtle.
The 150-pound male was found on August 21st, 2017 with a fish hook in his mouth, and his flipper was tangled in fishing line. The Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute retrieved the turtle and later shipped him to NOAA Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu. There, NOAA researchers and veterinarians made the decision to amputate his front flipper due to severe damage. After the turtle’s wounds had healed, he was transported back to Maui for release.
Turtle number 1,000 is far from alone in his injuries. NOAA announced that “Unfortunately, such fishing gear-related injuries and deaths are increasing in Hawaii.”
The Pacific Islands Region marine mammal and entanglement hotline at (888) 256-9840 is available to call if one sees turtles or marine mammals that are in distress. Human activities can disturb sea turtles, as can waste; so it is prudent to keep a respectful distance if you see a turtle, watch out for turtles when you are boating, and dispose of materials such as fishing line appropriately.
Officials said that “Fishing line and trailing gear is the greatest cause of known injury and death to sea turtles.”