For Immediate Release - July 28, 2014

State Officials Urge Boaters to Report Entangled Sea Turtles to the Disentanglement Hotline

BOSTON – Monday, July 28, 2014 – Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) are urging boaters to immediately report entangled leatherback sea turtle sightings to the Marine Animal Entanglement Hotline (1-800-900-3622) or by hailing the Coast Guard on Channel 16.

“Leatherback sea turtles are an endangered species that inhabit northern waters seasonally and are now present off the Massachusetts coastline,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “For the safety of both turtles and people, boaters should contact the Disentanglement Hotline immediately and not attempt to disentangle turtles themselves.”

The Massachusetts Sea Turtle Disentanglement Network has documented 11 entanglements this year. Unfortunately, many of these cases were not properly addressed due to lack of prompt reporting or disentanglement attempts by untrained boaters. The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team operates a 24-hour rapid response network to react to these entanglements.

Leatherback sea turtles are an endangered species and a seasonal visitor to Massachusetts waters, where they feed on abundant jellyfish. However leatherbacks often become entangled in buoy lines while feeding in northern waters, especially in areas with a high density of fixed gear. They are also susceptible to vessel strike. Boaters should keep a lookout for leatherbacks swimming at the surface and maintain slow speeds to avoid collision.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the Center for Coastal Studies have partnered on the Massachusetts Sea Turtle Disentanglement Network since 2005 using grant funds from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Please report all sightings of entangled sea turtles immediately. Call the Marine Animal Entanglement Hotline at 800-900-3622 or hail the Coast Guard on Channel 16. After reporting an entanglement, please stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained help arrives, but do not touch the turtle or the gear. Following these key steps ensures that the disentanglement team can relocate the animal and safely disentangle them. For more information, visit the DMF website at http://www.mass.gov/marinefisheries or contact Erin Burke at erin.burke@state.ma.us or 978-551-0152.

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