NOAA is investigating the death of a sea turtle that was found entangled in fishing line on Thursday in Kailua.
“External examination showed that the animal had entanglement in fishing line of the front flippers and the neck,” T. Todd Jones, NOAA, said.
Jones, the lead scientist for the Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program with NOAA, said that fishing lines pose a greater threat to turtles than fishing hooks.
A disease that’s common among sea turtles used to be the leading cause of turtle strandings, but fishing lines have now surpassed that.
“It can actually get so tight the flipper can no longer get blood supply and eventually will cause an amputation or the line can be swallowed by the animal and once it’s swallowed it causes gut impaction. The animal can no longer forage and move food through [its digestive system],” Jones explains.
NOAA says about 350 turtles are stranded in waters around Oahu each year, and only half of those turtles are found alive.
808 Cleanups said they find fishing line on nearly every cleanup they do. The line is durable and they group said the lines can last for hundreds of years so they bought special ring cutters to remove it from the reef.
The group said they’ve come across entangled turtles during their cleanups as recently as two weeks ago at Makai Research Pier.
“At our last cleanup, a volunteer saw a baby turtle which was unfortunately entangled and didn’t make,” Fawn Liebengood, 808 Cleanups, said. “You can definitely see the difference that fishing line has made there along with the lead weights and hooks.”
NOAA encourages safe fishing practices, but the main thing they want people to know – it’s okay to help if you see a turtle in distress.
“Bring the animal safely to the boat or to shore, remove as much line as possible, and release the animal,” Jones said.
- To report entangled marine animals, visit https://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/marine_turtle/strandings.php
- For more information about 808 cleanups, visit https://www.808cleanups.org/