Department of Environment conservation officers on Saturday rescued a juvenile turtle that had become entangled in a bundle of discarded fishing line, highlighting the threat those lines pose to Cayman’s marine life.
The two officers, who were alerted by a resident, arrived at the scene by private vessel and a department jet ski. They freed the turtle and released it back into the sea in the Rum Point channel.
While this incident had a positive outcome, DoE conservation officers noted that they were still seeing far too many sea creatures becoming entangled in bundles of discarded fishing line.
“The conservation officers who responded Saturday pulled in a lot of fishing line from the water,” said Mark Orr, DoE chief conservation officer. “This is another reminder to the public to please recycle fishing line, rather than just tossing it away.”
DoE Research Officer Janice Blumenthal said entanglement in discarded fishing line is one of the most serious threats to juvenile turtles in Cayman. “Fishing line is nearly invisible underwater and causes drowning and severe injuries, such as flipper amputations. Even if unwanted fishing line is sent to the landfill, it can continue to entangle birds and other animals. Fishing line takes more than 600 years to degrade.”
According to the DoE, its officers placed nearly 40 recycling bins for discarded fishing line around the three islands over the past several years and advised fishermen and other members of the public to use those bins, rather than simply casting their old or used lines on the beach or into the sea.
Most public boat-launching ramps have a fishing line recycling bin and many fishing stores and dive shops have the bins as well. Whether fishing from the shore or from a boat, individuals are asked to keep the unwanted fishing line until it can be deposited at a recycling location. Cayman has recycled more than 200 pounds of old and discarded fishing lines since the bins were set up.
Anyone who sees a turtle in danger may contact the DoE via a 24-hour telephone hotline at 938-6378 and should provide as much information about the incident as possible when calling. For more information about fishing line recycling, and/or turtles, visit the DoE website at www.doe.ky.