Today marked the 10th successful sea turtle release for Clearwater Marine Aquarium so far this year. Wally is a juvenile Kemps Ridley that came to CMA on May 18th. A fisherman caught Wally at the Redington Beach Pier on his line. Wally had swallowed the fisherman’s baited hook along with some heavy test line. While viewing x-rays, the CMA turtle team was able to visualize the hook. With the aid of CMA’s veterinarian, Dr. Mike Walsh, CMA turtle staff and volunteers were able to extract the hook and line. After three weeks of healing the wounds in his esophagus, he began eating well and it was determined that he was eligible for release.
A fisherman hooking a sea turtle is not a rare occurrence in the Tampa Bay area. Here are some tips for responsible fishing and what to do if a sea turtle is hooked.
• Use barbless hooks or circle hooks versus J hooks with barbs.
• If you hook a sea turtle, do not reel it in, try to net the turtle.
• Do not try to extract the hook as this can cause more damage to the throat.
• If you must cut the line, leave at least two feet of line behind to tie off and stop the hook from migrating and causing further damage.
• Do not try to release the sea turtle. Call Florida Fish and Wildlife 1-888-404-3922 and Clearwater Marine Aquarium 1-727-441-1790 ext 234 and let us know you have a hooked sea turtle.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently one of the largest sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in Florida. The upcoming $12 million dollar expansion of CMA includes new, state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities and will double the current capacity for rehabilitating turtles.