The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach Florida developed a Responsible Pier Initiative training program to assist piers who encounter sea turtles with practices to help save the animals. According to the Marinelife Center about 250,000 marine turtles either ingest or become entangled in fishing related marine debris each year. The staff from the Marinelife Center recently presented these practices at a meeting hosted by the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.
Step 1 – Fishermen who hook or entangle a sea turtle from the pier should decrease the slack in the line but DO NOT attempt to pull the turtle out of the water.
Step 2 – Local piers who are participating in the program will have blue signs that give instructions on how to handle the turtle and a hoop net that can be used to move the turtle towards shore. Fishermen, or pier staff, should lower this net and place under the turtle.
Step 3 – keeping the turtle in the net and near the surface, the rescuer should slowly “walk” the turtle down the pier towards the shore. CAUTION: swimming with a hooked or entangled 300 lb sea turtle is very dangerous and not recommended.
Step 4 – Once on shore the rescuers should move the turtle into the shade or cover with a wet towel. If the turtle most be moved it is recommended to have 1 person for every 40 lbs of turtle mass.
Step 5 – If removing fishing line from a hooked sea turtle the rescuer should leave at least 2 ft of line. This allows easier removal of the hook and line by a certified veterinarian.
Step 6 – Call FWC at *FWC or #FWC and the dispatch at Gulf Islands National Seashore (850-916-3010)
If you have any further questions about sea turtles or the new lighting ordinance for Santa Rosa Island you can contact Sea Grant Agent Rick O’Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 475-5230.