An endangered sea turtle was rescued in the Long Island Sound one mile north of Mt. Sinai Harbor Monday night with the assistance of the Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau.
Marine Bureau Police Officers David Goldstein and Matthew Funaro received information from a boat via the VHF radio that a very large sea turtle was entangled in the lines of several lobster pots at 8:40 p.m Monday. The officers received this message while on routine patrol in the Long Island Sound.
The turtle was located approximately ten minutes later by the officers and it appeared to be in distress, having difficulty breathing. The officers maneuvered their boat and attempted to free the turtle from the lines. They managed to free one of its flippers, but were unable to remove the remaining lines due to the turtle’s size and agitated state.
The officers requested assistance from Marine Bureau Police Officers Michael Cappiello and Matthew Wargas, who transported personnel from the Riverhead Foundation’s Rescue Program from the shore to the scene.
Julika Wocial, Riverhead Foundation’s Rescue Program Supervisor and Kimberly Durham, Rescue Program Director, worked with the Marine Bureau officers for over three hours and eventually freed the turtle using lights, cutting tools and poles.
According to Wocial and Durham, the turtle was a Leatherback sea turtle at least six feet long weighing an estimated 1000 pounds. They also reported that the particular species is on the endangered list and that the sea turtle was a female of breeding age, making the rescue extremely important, according to police.
Reports state that once freed, the turtle appeared to calm down and it swam away on its own without further incident. The marine bureau encourages all boaters to immediately report any sightings of stranded or entangled marine life.