Tuesday 20 November, 2018

DoE officers help turtle trapped by fishing line in North Sound

The Department of Environment over the weekend called on residents to be mindful of how they discarded fishing equipment.

The call came as a sea turtle had become entangled in discarded fishing line on Saturday in North Sound.

A member of the public who spotted the turtle noted that it was a juvenile Hawksbill and that it was having difficulty breaking free from the discarded material.

 However, the resident couldn’t manage to assist the turtle.

Two DoE officers responded and freed the juvenile turtle, releasing it back into the sea in the Rum Point channel.

While this incident had a positive outcome, DoE conservation officers noted that they are still seeing far too many sea creatures becoming entangled in bundles of discarded fishing line.

“The conservation officers who responded Saturday pulled in a lot of fishing line from the water,” said Mark Orr, DoE chief conservation officer.

“This is another reminder to the public to please recycle fishing line, rather than just tossing it away,” he added.

DoE Research Officer Janice Blumenthal said entanglement in discarded fishing line is one of the most serious threats to juvenile turtles in Cayman.

 “Fishing line is nearly invisible underwater and causes drowning and severe injuries, such as flipper amputations. Even if unwanted fishing line is sent to the landfill, it can continue to entangle birds and other animals. Fishing line takes more than 600 years to degrade,” said Blumenthal.

The DoE maintains close to forty recycling bins for discarded fishing line around the three islands for the past several years and advises fishermen and other members of the public to use those bins, rather than simply casting their old or used lines on the beach or into the sea.

Most public boat-launching ramps have a fishing line recycling bin and many fishing stores and dive shops have the bins as well.

The DoE also used the opportunity to thank  the member of the public who called for assistance in rescuing the juvenile turtle from a life-threatening situation and further encouraged anyone seeing a turtle in danger around the islands to contact the DoE immediately.