As you likely know, natural predators aren’t the only threats to sea turtles and marine mammals in the open ocean—many manmade threats, like derelict fishing gear, pollution, and plastics, constantly endanger marine life. Fortunately, a recent encounter between a leatherback sea turtle and a derelict fishing net had a positive ending for the turtle.
Earlier this month, one 800-pound leatherback sea turtle became entangled with a fishing net 30 miles off the New Jersey coast. A recreational fishing boat spotted the struggling sea turtle and immediately notified the U.S. Coast Guard, who dispatched immediately alongside members from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N. J. Fortunately, crew members were able to set this turtle free.
Leatherback sea turtles are the largest sea turtle species and also one of the largest reptiles in the world. It’s found in tropical to temperate waters worldwide, and primarily inhabits open water habitat. Leatherbacks are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Incidental capture in fishing gear, whether through bycatch or recreational fisheries, is a major threat to leatherbacks. Oceana campaigns to reduce bycatch for a number of species, including sea turtles, by advocating for more sustainable fishing gear types and fishery closures when warranted. Click here to learn more.
Take a look below for a glimpse of the dramatic rescue: