Leatherback Turtle Rescued off Cape Cod

Jenn Tackaberry, member of the CCS MAER team, works to free entangled leatherback turtle. Photo/CCS image taken under NOAA permit # 50 CFR 222.310
Jenn Tackaberry, member of the CCS MAER team, works to free entangled leatherback turtle. Photo/CCS image taken under NOAA permit # 50 CFR 222.310

The Marine Animal Entanglement Response team (MAER) at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts, disentangled a leatherback turtle Thursday, September 18, 2014, just outside the east entrance to the Cape Cod Canal.

Recreational boaters discovered the nearly 500-pound turtle as it was struggling with a difficult entanglement. They stood by the turtle at a safe distance until the MAER team arrived.

The turtle, an adult female, had multiple wraps around her neck and front flippers. The wounds at her neck and flippers indicate that she had likely been entangled for some time. Swift reporting on the part of the boaters and a rapid response on the part of the MAER team has given the turtle a much better prognosis for survival.

The turtle, like many other leatherbacks, was probably in the bay to feed on massive shoals of jellyfish. More turtles are likely to arrive in the coming weeks as turtles further to the north begin their southward migration as temperatures cool.

Mariners are urged to keep watch for entangled marine animals and to immediately report sightings to the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Hotline (800-900-3622) or the Coast Guard, then stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.