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Animal Rescue Update: Hooked Turtles Admitted

Four Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles have been admitted to our Animal Rescue facility after being hooked by fishing gear.

Published June 16, 2015

sea turtles

Bruce, Scuttle, Clayton, and Thumper were transferred from the Virginia Aquarium on June 11th.

According to Stranding Response Program at the Virginia Aquarium, there have been more hooked turtle cases (22) in the past few weeks than during the whole 2014 turtle season combined (17). 

Hook admittances at their facility have increased by 144 percent since 2009.

sea turtle exam

Sea turtles are an endangered species and there are federal laws that protect these animals from human activities such as harassment, poaching, hunting, killing, feeding, and touching within our waterways. Unfortunately, hook injuries like these are not uncommon.

However, there are simple steps that YOU can take to help protect these animals! With summer in full swing, we would like to take the time to talk about sea turtle safety and what you can do to help save these animals.

First, please remember that the top thing you can do to help these turtles is to report any suspicious incidents, entanglement cases, sightings, or strandings! Turtle injuries don’t always get reported and can be harmful for the turtle if their injuries go untreated without proper care!

It is not always easy to spot sea turtles in the open water, as they will only surface for a breath of air. Sea turtles are not basking turtles, so you will not find them lounging on rocks or beaches to rest. 

If you happen to capture a sea turtle while fishing in local water or find an injured turtle, immediately contact the appropriate response team and await further instruction. Locally these teams can be contacted at:

Maryland, National Aquarium: 410-576-3880
Delaware, MERR Institute: 302-228-5029
Virginia, Virginia Aquarium: 757-385-7575
NOAA Fisheries Hotline: 1-866-755-6622

While you wait for the response team to arrive, here are a few things to remember:
  • Keep your hands away from the turtle’s mouth and flippers.
  • Use a net or the shell to life the animal onto land/pier, or into a boat. Do NOT lift the animal via hook or pull on the line. If the turtle is too large, try to guide it to the beach.
  • When you have control of the animal, use blunt scissors/knife to cut the line, being sure to leave at least 2 feet of line.
  • Leave the hook in place, as removing it could cause further damage. NEVER take the hook out on your own and release the animal. The response team wants to make sure that the turtle is safe before releasing it back into the wild.
  • Keep the turtle out of direct sunlight, and cover the shell with a damp towel.

Stay tuned for updates on Bruce, Scuttle, Clayton, and Thumper’s recovery with the Animal Rescue team!

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