Turtle Tale Has Happy Ending For “Hooks”

June 30, 2011

Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS) and the Department of Conservation Services, within the Ministry of Public Works, are urging boaters and fishermen to take extra care this summer to avoid harming endangered sea turtles.

Bermuda’s marine turtles are a protected species under both the Fisheries Protection Order and the Protected Species Act, says BZS research scientist Mark Outerbridge, coordinator of the Bermuda Turtle Project.

Hooks release

Entanglement is one of the greatest threats to Bermuda’s resident sea turtles, Outerbridge notes. The other is getting hit by boats. Both types of injury have caused 77 sea turtles to be taken to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ) for treatment or analysis over the past 25 years.

“Fourteen turtles were tangled in mono-filament fishing line left in the marine environment by local shoreline fishers—and sadly, nearly all of them were found dead,” says Outerbridge. “This led the Bermuda National Trust to install 14 mono-filament recycling bins at popular fishing spots around the Island, in conjunction with an awareness campaign highlighting the harmful effects that discarded fishing line has upon marine organisms. These bins, made from six-inch PVC pipe, serve as waste receptacles for unwanted fishing line. If used, they are a simple yet effective way of keeping fishing line out of the ocean environment around Bermuda.”

Recreational fishing has been the cause of 10 turtles being admitted to the BAMZ Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for veterinary treatment since 1986. All had small fish hooks embedded in them, mostly in the jaw and mouth cavity. Nine were successfully treated and subsequently released; one animal died. Outerbridge cites the most recent example of a turtle that had to be operated on at BAMZ—but this story had a happy ending.

Last month, a concerned member of the public took a juvenile green turtle to BAMZ which he had accidentally caught with a hook and line off a public dock on North Shore. The turtle was alive and had two fishing lines trailing from its mouth. BAMZ Principal Curator and veterinarian Dr. Ian Walker immediately transferred the turtle into the new Animal Care Centre at BAMZ for examination. A digital X-ray revealed the turtle had swallowed two baited fishhooks—both of which were located deep within its throat.

hooks x-ray

“Dr. Walker performed two procedures under general anesthesia to remove the majority of mono-filament fishing line which would otherwise have acted like a saw and severely damaged the turtle’s intestines,” says Outerbridge. “The two hooks were located in a difficult position and could not be removed during the procedures despite multiple attempts. It was elected to leave them in place and monitor the turtle.”

The turtle was kept under close observation in the BAMZ Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and a series of X-rays over the course of a three-week period showed the hooks were slowly making their way through the turtle’s intestines with no problems. The turtle finally successfully eliminated both hooks in early June, making it unnecessary to perform invasive surgery. On June 10, the turtle—nick-named “Hooks” by BAMZ aquarists who had cared for it, was tagged and released back into the sea.

“I am very grateful that the fisherman who accidentally caught ‘Hooks’ brought the turtle to BAMZ instead of immediately releasing it into the ocean with the fishhooks still inside of it,” notes Outerbridge. “The health of a sea turtle can be seriously compromised when it has a fishhook embedded in its mouth or throat. Worse yet is the mono-filament fishing line that is attached to the hook, which can cause intestinal damage via blockage or laceration. Also, if there is a lot of fishing line training behind the turtle, it can become entangled and drown.”

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  1. Green Sea Turtle Healing After Successful Surgery | Bernews.com | September 11, 2012
  1. Clafe says:

    YES-I DUN,

    I wuz flexin wif Hooks up Captain’s last week (alcoholism runs in chaboy’s femily), n he wuz tellin me d real story of how he swalowed d fish hook. Ace turtle said he wuz jus CHILLIN up north shore, talkin a pack wif his ace squid Mugneesha, when all of a suddn this fleppin-well hook comes down unda d water. Hooks wuz like “how dopey do guyz think we R? i aneen gunna bite dat dere hook, u kno?” n Mugneesha wuz like “Real talk, buh”. But den Hooks’s brother Snap-a-Doodle came thru (he’s d black sheep of d family) n wuz like “AY HOOKS, i DERR u 2 bite dat hook! I’ll give u a DOLLA, dun!” Hooks wuz broke n owed money 2 sum guyz up Crawl, but wuz still like “NAH Snap-a-Doodle, shus 2 dangerous!” so Snap-a-Doodle was like “aiight den….TWO dollaz!”. Hook culdn’t turn down such a boasty offer, so he went str8 4 de hook… an de rest is history.

    just wunted 2 clear things up, cuz sum guyz have bin talkin a pack about Hooks n callin him dopey, when all he wuz rlly doin wuz takin a risk 2 get sum dollaz 2 pay off his debt…WEVE ALL BEEN DERE PPL, JUDG NOT AZ THOU B JUDGED, U KNO? GUYZ FROM UP CRAWL R SERIOUS!

    • TURTLE says:

      From wish planet are you come from???? YOUR grammar is the worst ever seen !!! you should feel shame!

    • Not always funny Clafe says:

      Clafe – your comments here are not appropriate and are completely unnecessary. While some of your initial posts may have been humorous, this is getting old – especially when you feel the need to comment on an article like this. Please wait for the next flipped car or sucker-punch article.

      The only comment this article needs is a huge “WELL DONE” and “THANK YOU” to BZS. Thank you for taking care of those that can’t speak for themselves.

    • Justin says:

      Thanks for the Friday Humor.

      Well done, BAMZ!

    • Anyone says:

      Clafe – I actually look forward to your twists. Don’t worry about that old fart. Laughter is the best medicine. I’m happy they saved the turtle though, as I’m sure you are as well.

  2. Cheeshums says:

    Brilliant job on behalf of the staff at the Aquarium. And also to the fisherman who took it to the aquarium good job. Nice to see people thinking of the environment.

  3. Grif says:

    You crack me up, Clafe.

  4. WSC says:

    they are actually hilarious. clafe they dont get old bird. stop trying to be such a nit picky liberal. everyone is happy about the turtle which is why its in the newspaper to start with so dont try and act like we all have to praise the article like its some shrine up in de sandy continent

  5. My two cents says:

    In my opinion these small things are part of a bigger picture here in downward spiraling Bermuda. Folks, in today’s society grown adults have no real excuse to not dispose of their trash in a trash receptacle. It is so simple yet so effective for the island. How much time would it really take you to put your fishing line and hooks in the proper receptacle?
    How much time would it really take you to throw your trash in a trash bin?
    Parents, please teach your children not to litter. Simple yet effective.
    The beauty of this island, which is ALL we have in regard to tourism should not be lost because of trash. And turtles should not have to die because you are to lazy to dispose of your trash. Come on Bermuda, just a little bit of effort can go a long way to improve this place. It starts with the small stuff.