Accidentally Hooked a Sea Turtle? Here is what you should do next!
It is important to understand you will not get into any trouble for hooking a sea turtle while fishing.
Always remember − your personal SAFETY FIRST. Turtles are wild animals that may bite, have very strong front flippers and jaws, and are deceptively heavy so take care to not injure yourself while attempting to help them. Also please avoid causing further injury to the animal.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC), our local sea turtle experts, encourages you to call them on their 24 hour hotline 561-603-0211 or FWC at 1-888-404-3922. Keep these numbers handy in your cell phone before the incident happens to save time and stress for both you and the turtle.
"Gently reel the slack line, keeping the turtle at the surface of the water. DO NOT lift the turtle above the water by pulling the line (this will result in further injury)." says LMC on their blog.
Next, it is critical that you ensure the turtle can lift its head above water to breath, as they do breath air while safely sinding a way to secure the turtle to await LMC or FWC to send help.
It is ok at this point to cut the fishing line, but make sure to leave 1 foot of line past the mouth and secure the line to prevent the turtle from swallowing it. LMC staff will use that excess fishing line to find the hook in the mouth.
"Even if the hook can be easily removed, it is good for LMC hospital staff to examine the animal. There could be other reasons the turtle was looking for a free meal. There may also be other hooks in the mouth, esophagus, or stomach that can be found on a radiograph. All hooks can them be safely removed." says LMC.
Ziggy, caught by fishermen who called LMC for help, makes his way back into
the ocean after having the hook surgically removed and had fully recovered.
Thanks for doing your part to protect this amazing species.