Critically endangered sea turtle treated, released
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife released a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle – one of the smallest and most critically endangered of all of the species – after it accidentally ingested a fishing hook.
Today, the juvenile turtle was released behind the West Wind Inn on Sanibel.
“It’s so special,” CROW veterinary intern Megan Cabot said of treating the hospital’s patients and returning them back into the wild. “It’s exactly the reason why I’m here.”
Staff reported that the turtle was accidentally hooked on July 20 by a fisherman on the Fort Myers Beach pier. The fisherman immediately contacted CROW for help and volunteers for Turtle Time Inc. responded. The turtle was transported by boat to Sanibel, where CROW staff were waiting at the dock to transport it to the wildlife hospital.
Veterinarians anesthetized the turtle and were able to safely remove the hook. It was embedded at the back of the mouth so they used bolt cutters to clip the barb of the hook and then easily removed it.
“Luckily, it was an easy up and remove the hook,” Cabot said.
Before being cleared for release, the turtle was tagged with flipper tags and a microchip.
CROW sees approximately 100 patients each year as a result of hook or fishing line injuries.
She noted that the public can help by properly disposing of their used line.
Cabot highlighted Mind Your Line, a collaborative effort among Sanibel-Captiva conservation organizations to reduce the amount of monofilament line and fishing gear left in the environment by providing monofilament recycling bins. Also, new educational signage was recently installed.
The signage provides steps to follow if a person accidentally hooks or encounters injured wildlife while on the water, as well as has instruction to report the location of monofilament to cleanup volunteers.
“We know that you can’t control what ends up on your line,” she said, adding that people should contact wildlife officials in such situations. “That fisherman did exactly the right thing.”
Cabot offered some additional suggestions for accidental hookings. She recommended slowly reeling in the hooked animal and leaving at least two feet of line for the veterinary crew to work around.
If you accidentally hook a sea turtle, do not cut the line and release the turtle.
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel can be reached at 239-472-3644 ext. 222, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can be reached at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
For more on preventing the entanglement of wildlife, visit www.MindYourLine.org.