A huge Florida sea turtle dragged 2 fishing rods and a tire
A 217-pound sea turtle had to be rescued off the Florida Panhandle, after closer inspection revealed it was dragging enough fishing gear to outfit a tour group.
This includes “two whole fishing rods and 5.5 pounds of fishing debris including line, hooks and sinkers,” according to the Gulfarium CARE Center in Fort Walton Beach.
The fate of the loggerhead was discovered on Tuesday, July 5, after it “was trapped” by fishermen, the Okaloosa Island Pier reported. The pier is at Fort Walton Beach, about 165 miles west of Tallahassee.
“She had two fishing rods and lots of fishing line and even part of a tire trailing behind her,” the pier wrote in a Facebook post.
“We can’t be grateful enough to our staff and a few local anglers for stepping in to save this big girl! Our staff had to go swimming with the Gulfarium (CARE Center) beaching team to get her in!
A photo shows the turtle was transported in the bed of a van to the Gulfarium CARE Center.
Tabitha Siegfried, stranding coordinator for the center, told McClatchy News that fishing gear was tangled around her right front fin.
Further inspection revealed that the knot contained “10 or more hooks”. However, only one hook was embedded in the turtle’s skin and it has since been removed, Siegfried said.
It is suspected that the fishing rods had been attached to the turtle for a few weeks. If the turtle hadn’t been spotted in time, the lines could have tightened, causing the fin to fall off, she said.
The case is an example of why anglers should never “cut their line” if it becomes entangled with any sea turtle, she said.
The Gulfarium CARE Center is a Fort Walton Beach nonprofit that “promotes the rehabilitation and release of all species of stranded sea turtles.” He has rescued nearly 85 endangered sea turtles so far this year.
Loggerheads are the most common species in the area and April through September is their nesting season, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
There was no evidence the rescued turtle had nested, but it is sexually mature, Siegfried said. (Sexual maturity is between 25 and 30 years for the species, she said.)
Adult loggerheads can weigh up to 350 pounds and live “70 years or more,” according to NOAA Fisheries.
This story was originally published July 6, 2022 2:24 p.m.