On April 7, 2014, a fisherman accidentally hooked a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle off the Lake Worth Pier. The fisherman knew exactly what to do as a result of the instructional signs posted on the pier: he called Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s (LMC) 24 Hour Sea Turtle Rescue Line. The signs are part of LMC’s Responsible Pier Initiative, which also consists of rescue nets on the pier as part of the conservation program.
Upon arriving at LMC, the sea turtle was taken to the Gordon and Patricia Gray Veterinary Hospital where he was dubbed TNT. Radiographs confirmed there was a fishing hook present in the esophagus. TNT was also missing a part of his carapace and right rear flipper. Those injuries may have been caused by a predator, but have since completely healed.
Following the examination, the results were analyzed and it was discovered that the fishing hook was lodged too far into the esophagus to remove with a dehooking device. A small incision was made on the neck and once the hook was located, another incision was made to remove the hook.
After the surgery, TNT remained at LMC for another three months until he was healthy enough for release.
This rescue story stresses the necessity for ocean conservation and the importance of sea turtle awareness education, especially in areas near fishing piers.
Juno Beach, Lake Worth and Dania Beach were the first fishing piers in the state of Florida to implement LMC’s Responsible Pier Initiative. As of today, there are currently 14 fishing piers that have agreed to implement this initiative.
The Responsible Pier Initiative consists of three elements:
- Cleaning beneath the pier and surrounding areas on a regular basis
- Hosting annual sea turtle rescue educational workshops for first responders
- Displaying sea turtle rescue signage and nets on the pier
Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s vision for the Responsible Pier Initiative is to bring the world-class ocean conservation education and program to all of the piers in the state of Florida. If you’re interested in bringing the Responsible Pier Initiative to your local pier or area, please contact Tommy Cutt, LMC Chief Conservation Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Written By: Rebeca Krogman, summer 2014 Marketing Intern