Protecting the Green Sea Turtle has been a passion and focus for us at Deep Ecology. When we see an injured or trapped turtle we act to help that creature. We have rescued over fifty sea turtles. We often receive phone calls from North Shore residents when an injured turtle is found.
What follows is a report from our first rescue, 'Chance', and a more recent rescue, 'Tessa':
Turtle Rescue #1 'Chance'August 1998
Atlantis, North Shore Oahu
On a tour with customers we came across a resting turtle that clearly had monofilament fishing line wrapped around his left flipper and neck. While in the water I tried to remove this line while Chance started swimming away. In doing this I realized the line was impossible to remove in water and I let go for fear that I might do more damage by holding on. Having done that, I got a terrible sinking feeling that I was watching a dead turtle swim away and that I had blown my "chance" to help.
I immediately followed Chance who was now very cautious and not allowing me to get close. I literally followed him very calmly for about 10 minutes keeping a faster than normal pace. Eventually I got my opportunity and lunged forward and secured one of his back flippers, than the other. From there I took the now heavily resisting turtle into my arms and ascended to the surface. Once there I swam to the boat and lifted him up.
Upon inspection we realized the horrendous damage that discarded monofilament line could have on marine life. The line around his flipper was literally cutting down all the way to the bone. The flipper was virtually useless and swollen to easily double the size of the normal one. At that point we knew that Chance would have definitely died by the line around his neck which would have invariably choked him.
It took us approximately 15 minutes to cut free all the line. We decided to let Chance go that day even though we had fears for his safety. In retrospect we would have turned him over for veterinary care. Happily however we found Chance ten months later doing well aside from the fact that his flipper had indeed been lost. It is with great joy that I have sighted him two other times and I will continue to look out for him.
By Ken Nichols
Turtle Rescue #56 'Tessa'October 8, 2008
Anahulu Stream, North Shore Oahu
On Wednesday afternoon of October 8th 2008, Deep Ecology received a phone call from an old friend that had reportedly seen a distressed turtle up Poamoho River in Haleiwa. The call was received by Tessa Kinney, who has gratefully been an employee with Deep Ecology since September 2008.
The scenario reported was the victimized turtle had been caught and tangled in a buoy line and was only accessible by boat or kayak. When I acquired the kayak she knew this was going to be more than a one person job, so I called Tyler Silber. Tyler has been an instructor with Deep Ecology for over two years, and had past experience with turtle rescue situations. When he arrived, we paddled up stream to the site and after a few minutes of searching we came across a very discrete buoy and decided to investigate. As we examined the area, we discovered our poor victim.
We tried to free her from the line that had wrapped itself around her neck, but decided in order to be successful she must be taken to shore. When we brought her out of the water and positioned her on her shell, we were easily able to cut the line which had been attached to a crab pot as well. We hoped this would be the last of this poor creature’s pain, but found a large fishing hook wedged in the turtle’s tongue.
We called NOAA for consultation. They advised us that the only way for them to help us was to bring the turtle to an accessible location. This was easier said than done. Tyler and I finally took a moment to glance around to find we had absolutely no idea where we were or how far up the river we had gone. Fortunately we found an access dirt road and called my boyfriend Dana to bring the company vehicle for transportation.
When we finally got back to the shop, we placed the turtle in a small kiddie pool lent to us by some friends to keep the turtle in a safe and confined space until the volunteer from NOAA arrived. It was turning out to be a long day for us, but was still not over for the unfortunate little honu since she had to be picked up and taken to a vet in Kailua.
It is so common for these turtles to find themselves in danger by the abundance of fishing and crabbing in Hawaii. We at Deep Ecology have taken a deep pride in rescuing and releasing these amazing creatures, and after just recently been taken off the endangered species list, we feel it is our responsibility to help keep it that way.
By Tessa Kinney
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