A surfer in Cocoa Beach, Fla. saved a young loggerhead sea turtle entangled in fishing line.
A surfer in Cocoa Beach, Fla. was hailed as a hero by some last month for saving a young loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) that was entangled in some fishing line off the Cocoa Beach Pier. The surfer observed the turtle thrashing about on the water's surface and upon closer inspection, noticed that it was clearly entangled in some heavy line that appeared to be snagged on the bottom of the ocean.
The surfer paddled over to the turtle and carefully began untangling the line from the turtle's flipper and carapace, taking care not to get his hands near the turtle's beaked mouth, which could have easily severed the man's hands. An observer with a video camera captured the almost four minute ordeal on video, watching safely from a distance as the surfer methodically removed the fishing hook and line from the turtle's body. After the surfer successfully removed the fishing line from the turtle, the turtle swam away and the surfer did what surfers do. He caught a wave to the beach.
Loggerhead sea turtles are an endangered species, and it is illegal to touch or harass them in any way, even to save them. Members of the Kennedy clan were gently reprimanded by government officials last summer when Max and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spent more than 30 minutes rescuing a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) from a buoy line in Nantucket Sound. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA encourages anyone who witnesses a sea turtle entangled in line or rope to call the NOAA Fisheries' disentanglement hotline at (866) 755-6622.
In June, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed that waters off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi be designated as critical habitat for the loggerhead turtle. The turtle which can grow to seven feet in length and can reach a weight of around 300 pounds, is facing a range of issues that affect its livelihood, including pollution, harvesting of eggs, coastal development and armament (seawalls), commercial fishing nets and gear, predation by raccoons, ghost crabs, birds, and sharks, and weather-related events. They are long lived turtles that reach sexual maturity in 17 to 30 years and can live more than 60 years. They feed mainly on invertebrates. Jellyfish and shellfish are a large part of their diet, as are shrimp, squid and sea urchins.