7. If you catch
a turtle when fishing, do not cut the line.
If you are angling for bull reds or grouper and pull up a sea turtle instead,
do not cut the line! Call the sea turtle helpline 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-887-8535)
for instructions. If your prize fish reveals its true form as a soft-shelled turtle,
terrapin, snapper, or other water turtle, likewise do not cut the line.
Use a fishing net to catch and pull the aquatic chelonian into the boat or onto
dry land. Avoid any reeling if possible as placing additional pressure on the
hook and/or entangled line will cause further damage to the entrapped turtle.
Once the aquatic chelonian has been landed, place the “catch of the day” into
a large box, live well, or open-topped, empty, ice-free cooler and call a local
wildlife rehabilitator or 713-548-4718 for further advice. If you have placed
the turtle in water, ensure that he/she can raise his/her head far above the water’s
surface without effort to prevent any chances of drowning. Avoid placing the hooked
or entangled chelonian in direct sunlight as overexposure could result in overheating
and dehydration. It is extremely important that the fishing line not be cut at
any point. If the line is broken, the turtle may swallow your fishing tackle and
the remaining free line completely, rendering removal of the life-threatening
gear tricky, if not impossible. With a little care, your unexpected landing could
turn into a minor irritation for the turtle and an epic fishing tale for you.
|Aquatic turtles, like
this snapping turtle, can be as easily tricked by baits as are the intended fish
quarry. Once they are hooked, turtles may further complicate matters by entangling
themselves in fishing line during desperate attempts at escape.