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Sea turtle disentanglement in 2005 - 11/9/05



  An entangled leatherback turtle surfaces for air in Cape Cod Bay
PCCS image taken under NOAA Fisheries authority 

By early November, PCCS had received over twenty reports of entangled sea turtles as the newly designated coordinator of a sea turtle disentanglement network in southern New England. Personnel from PCCS, NOAA Fisheries, the Cape Cod Stranding Network, Wellfleet Audubon, the US Coast Guard (USCG) and various local harbormasters disentangled nine turtles between June and October (the remaining animals were either lost or were found dead with their entanglements). Caches of tools, adapted from the large whale disentanglement network, were maintained at selected sites along the coast, and training sessions were held on Cape Cod, Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket. The goals of the new initiative were to safely disentangle as many turtles as possible while gathering data that could be useful in preventing turtle entanglements.

All of the confirmed entanglement cases involved leatherback turtles, an endangered species, and were scattered along the coast, with two distinct clusters in Buzzards Bay and the eastern side of Cape Cod Bay (likely caused by a combination of factors, including the distribution of turtles, fishing gear and observers). Reports of entangled turtles came in from scientists, fishermen and private boaters and the vast majority of cases were first radioed in to the US Coast Guard which then relayed the information to PCCS. Entanglement reports spanned the season, from June through September, with a peak in late August.

One of the most notable events of the year involved a large leatherback turtle that was eventually disentangled in Provincetown Harbor in early September. The animal had been reported as entangled the day before off Jeremy Point, Wellfleet, in Cape Cod Bay. The animal maintained extensive mobility despite dragging a lobster trap and a large amount of rope.

Major support and authorization for this effort came from NOAA Fisheries.

click here to read about previous entanglements


Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
115 Bradford Street
P.O. Box 1036
Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657
508-487-3622    Fax: 508-487-4495

© 2005 Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies