Turtle’s “Devastating” Injury Likely From Collision

August 5, 2013

[WARNING: Graphic footage linked] Following the death of a turtle over the holiday weekend, the Department of Conservation Services reminded the public to adhere to all boating regulations in signposted areas which are feeding grounds for the turtles.

The turtle was found at about 2pm on the shore of Hinsons Island on Saturday [Aug 3] by Marshall DeCouto, who sent the footage in, saying he hoped it woud “increase public awareness and compassion”.

Mr DeCouto said he was “saddened and upset” to see a “beautiful creature like the sea turtle ripped apart by propeller blades when all it was trying to do was take a breath at the surface.

“Many on the water drive like they do on land without care or concern for any thing else. Whether it is drinking and driving a boat or selfish carelessness, there are far too many boaters who use the inland waterways like their personal speedway,” said Mr DeCouto.

GRAPHIC FOOTAGE WARNING: The photos/video are too graphic to post without warning, however for those that wish to see them, they can be found on a separate page here. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Department of Conservation Services said the turtle’s “devastating injury” was most likely from a collision with a boat. Footage shows the sea creature was mauled almost beyond recognition.

A Government spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo staff responded to a call from a member of the public regarding a dead turtle found floating near Hinson’s Island over the holiday weekend. The turtle was found to have a devastating injury resulting most likely from a collision with a boat.

“The Department of Conservation Services would like to remind the general public to be aware of these endangered animals as they navigate the waters around the island and to be especially cautious and adhere to all boating regulations in signposted areas which we know to be feeding grounds for the turtles.”

For more information on ensuring the safety of turtles while boating, please see a PDF here from the Department of Conservation.

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Category: Accidents and fires, All, Environment, News

Comments (41)

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  1. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    I’d like to do the same thing to some of these boaters and drivers that think they can do as they please!

  2. Mike says:

    Horrible.

  3. unreal says:

    I am all for the protection of wildlife and these beautiful sea creatures but these continual reports fail to point out a few key things about the local turtle population and their run-in (literally) with boats;

    1) They are visitors to the island only and their numbers seem to be booming in recent years.
    2) Most are juveniles that need to take breaths more often than adults; this makes them more susceptible to boat traffic.
    3) They can and will surface in front of a moving vessel at any point and there is basically nothing a boat operator can to do to avoid a collision.
    4) They are not just found in inlets and bays with turtle grass, they are literally everywhere. A massive increase in boat traffic on the cup match holiday would almost surely result in a collision at some point.

    Surely you’re not suggesting that fast ferries slow down while crossing the great sound or north shore, so why then would you suggest that the general public do something different?

    More turtles + more boats = larger potential for collisions. This has nothing to do with careless boaters I assure you.

    • DUHHHH says:

      AGREED!

      • Brad says:

        Seriously? OK folks – how about we replace the word “turtle” in the above comment with “children/youngsters/toddlers/unwanted pregnancies” who are all over the place because they are on summer break?

        1. their numbers are booming in the recent years.
        2. they aren’t as smart as adults when it comes to traffic, less experience
        3. they have been known to step in front of moving vehicles
        4. they are not just found in their backyards playing in their sandboxes – they are everywhere right now especially over holiday weekends and “will almost always result in a collision at some point”

        Many of us like sea turtles faaaar better than we like your children but we do the right thing and try not to slaughter them on the roads with our vehicles. I don’t think that’s asking too much of us. Do you?

        • unreal says:

          @Brad Non-boaters simply do not get it. Likening a boat to a car is not only dumb it’s also ignorant.
          Also likening a juvenile turtle to a child is rubbish unless of course unattended children pop up out of the asphalt at a moments notice.

          I’ll repeat….boats do not have brakes! Try again

          • Brad says:

            Try again? How’s this: I am a boater, been one since birth 60 years ago. That said, I will end with this: there are obviously 2 kinds of boaters:

            1. the respectful boaters who do what they can to protect and respect the environment and all living things in it.
            2. boaters like you. (kicked any kittens today? dumped your empty beer bottles overboard lately? probably. We all know your type.)

            Done.

            • Toodle-oo says:

              +boaters like you. (kicked any kittens today? dumped your empty beer bottles overboard lately? probably. We all know your type.+

              How on earth did you come to that ridiculous , stupid and grossly uninformed conclusion based on unreal’s posts ?

              Please try to understand what unreal is saying.
              Accidents happen when things pop up in front of a boat unannounced .
              Again , no-one is deliberately going out trying to run over turtles , unlike what some people do when they see toads (frogs for us old timers) on the roads.

              If you have in fact been on the water for 60 years I would have thought that you’d have shared unreal’s realistic views.

            • unreal says:

              Unless you travel 5 knots or less in any boat everywhere you go (perhaps you’re a blow boater – probably are based on your statements) you are no more “respectful” to turtles than any other boater out there.

              You can argue all you want about being aware and respectful; any boat runs the risk of hitting a turtle anywhere on the island while travelling at a moderate speed. Why can’t you guys get that? With 60 years of boating experience you should know this right?

              Is it unfortunate? Absolutely, but it can happen to anybody.

              But for the media and posters to accuse boaters of not paying attention or being disrespectful for failing to avoid a turtle is extremely misguided.

              Also, categorizing my boater type speaks volumes about your ignorance. I didn’t play marbles with you; you don’t know me! So take your marbles (or lack thereof) and go home.

        • BermudaGirl says:

          Thank you, Brad. (except for the unwanted pregnancies, you are spot on.)

    • Really? says:

      you guys come on i have seen plenty of people driving around not paying attention on boats. Music blaring, grabbing a beer chatting to a girl. cant be avoided all the time but we can try and help

      • unreal says:

        As relevant as you think your comments may be they have nothing to do with the topic matter in question. For the non-boaters out there, please try and remember the following;

        Boats do not have brakes! If you are at cruise speed it takes an inordinate amount of time to come to complete stop.

        There is no road to follow! Playing music, having a cold beverage and talking to others is all in days boating fun.

        Outside of any 5-knot no wake zone there is nothing a boat driver can do if a turtle pops up in front of them. This is not an excuse, it is a fact.

        Turtles are literally everywhere these days. Non-mariners make me laugh when they see the posted turtle signs while on the water. They immediately start looking for them. It’s the same habit people have with the deer crossing signs in the U.S. You see them mostly where the turtle signs aren’t.

        • Ganja Mon says:

          completely agree with everything you have said unreal. There is nothing a boat driver can do if a turtle pops up directly in front of them.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Hopefully unreal’s points wont be lost on the faux conservationists and non boat owning members of the public.

      No-one deliberately goes out to run over the turtles but there’s just so damn many of them now.
      When I was a child we never saw turtles anywhere. Now they’re all over the place. I can walk down to the shoreline from my place right now and watch 8 to 10 of them at any time just yards from me.

      A testament to our conservation measures and protectionist policies that is now making boaters look careless and heartless.

      Let’s just be as observant as we can and keep an eye out for them. Otherwise ‘big brother’ will soon see to it , in all their infinite wisdom , that the only boats that will be allowed in Bermuda are sailboats.

      • sugra says:

        +1 to unreal and Toodle-oo

        Notwithstanding that there are definitely some idiots on the water these days, turtles are now so prolific that accidents are bound to happen occasionally. And yes, they will pop up directly in front your boat. Had it happen twice over the long weekend at slow speed and managed to avoid them (I hope).

        It’s sad to see the results of this collision, but there’s a good chance that the operator didn’t even realize it had happened.

    • Nuffin but da Truth says:

      B/S and you know it…stop making poor excuses that are B/S.

    • micro says:

      I agree.

      Every time a turtle is found, the cry for boaters to be more aware and slow down in areas turtles are known to frequent is called, but I doubt speed and carelessness is the cause of all collisions; I’d say in many cases its simply an unfortunate incident of chance. Do we know what happened? Did it even happen in a area known to be frequented by turtles – sure the turtle may be found in such a area, but what’s to see it didn’t drift or swim and then died of its injuries?

      There really is only so much a boater can do to avoid them. The 5knot limit or whatever it is in the marked areas can only help if the turtle realizes eminent danger with enough time to dive (which is the main call of the speed restriction – giving the turtle enough time to get out of the way since they typically don’t associate boats (the sound of a engine) with danger until you’re practically on top of them) or if the turtle is actually near enough to the surface to be seen at a distance great enough to slow down or turn away.

    • Turtle Loving Boater says:

      Hope in your next life you’ll return as a turtle and have to face the challenges of life with boaters.
      Just because one can legally go fast in the Harbour, it doesn’t mean you have to. Heck, few people follow the speed limits or no wake zone restrictions daily, weekends are especially bad with lots of warriors paying little attention to the effect their wake has on small boats, people swimming along the shoreline or getting on/off boats, getting fuel, etc, etc.

      I pray the 5 knot restriction/no wake area is enlarged, and boating licenses required, regulations enforced. Perhaps if a penalty was involved people would slow down and (reluctantly?) have to show a bit of respect for others. And yes, it is possible to avoid possible collisions with turtles, look on either side in front of you and slow down and be prepared to stop, just as you would on land in the event a kid or animal ran across the road in front of you.

  4. Mermaid says:

    I saw a dead turtle floating in the water off Spanish Point on Sunday, July 21. It was quite clear that it’s shell had been chopped deeply by propeller blades. It saddened me, but I did not bring it in, as it was quite obvious how it died.

  5. downderoad says:

    Dear “Unreal”,

    Wow what rationalization!

    1. “They are visitors” – SO! Does that mean we treat them with any less respect as our native fauna?
    1. “…numbers are booming in recent years” – The Department of Conversation Services calls them “endangered” but you know better I suppose.

    2. “Most are juveniles that need to take breaths more often than adults” -. How does this fact negate our responsibility to drive with care?

    3. “They can and will surface in front of a moving vessel at any point” – I drive my boat everyday and I have had no problem avoiding them. I actually pay attention to the sea in front of me and often see the turtles ahead before they can dive and I either veer away or stop my forward movement. In 5 years, I have never had a turtle pop up right in front of my boat!

    4. “They are not just found in inlets and bays with turtle grass, they are literally everywhere” – This is classic! They are “literally everywhere”? If that were true, we would have turtle carcasses drifting all over the Sound and harbour. You would not be able to boat anywhere. I remember when the toads would come out late at night and you could not drive home without running over several toads. I don’t think this is the same problem.

    I am not sure how you can assure anyone, unless you have witnessed these turtle strikes yourself or perhaps you hit one and know something we don’t. Every time I see a turtle pop up (Note that I am looking out for them while driving my boat!) they catch their breath and dive as fast as possible when they either see my boat or hear the engine. It doesn’t seem likely that they are popping up in front of boats just to make trouble!

    Look, it comes down to this. Either you are a type of human that feels some responsibility to care for the planet and it’s many creatures, or you are the type who feel that this planet is here for the enjoyment and exploitation of humans alone and everything else better get out of the way! There is really no debate, but I felt I had to chime in on your ridiculous list.

    • unreal says:

      So let me get this straight…….. you drive your boat everyday and travel slow enough to avoid a collision by actively “looking out” for them? But in the same argument you state that they are in fact not as plentiful as I suggest?
      If they are not plentiful why are you “often” seeing turtles and successfully avoiding them?

      You must be an extremely talented boat captain with a boat that can turn or stop on a dime. I guess you also have a set of night vision goggles and turtle radar on board. What a ridiculous rebuttal.

      Over the cup match holiday I spotted no less than 40 tutles each day without even trying to look for them. I would say they are more plentiful than in the past and it appears that others agree with me on this as well.

      Let’s just state facts……. if a center console boat is travelling at 25-30knots and a turtle surfaces directly in front of the bow, there is nothing a captain can do to avoid a collision. Nothing

      • Real says:

        If you saw 40 without looking for them, imagine how many you would have seen if you had been looking ahead and looking out for them. You are in their back yard – the ocean – respect it or get out of it!

        • unreal says:

          @Real Without “trying” to look for them – re-read the comment dummy. Meaning……………. I spotted them while driving in a forward motion. I was not looking to the side or at a far distance actively looking for turtle activity.

          The comments against boats and boaters are so shallow minded, obviously you have never piloted a boat travelling at speed in a legal area to do so and have a turtle pop up directly in front of the bow. It happens more than you think. Most turtles react quickly enough, others apparently don’t, hence the pictures.

          Also for those of you who think that turtles can read the posted turtle warning signs and restrict themselves to those areas, I have a bridge to sell you.

          • Brad says:

            Newsflash!! Those signs aren’t posted for the turtles to read.

            Nuff said.

    • Onlooker says:

      Well said.

    • Rosy Hill says:

      So well said, thank you!

      • Rosy Hill says:

        To clarify, I am supportive of the views expressed by downderoad. We get that accidents happen, and hopefully you are all right in that there are more than ever. Would love to hear that killing a living creature is sad and unintended, not just oops as you drive on!

    • micro says:

      1) I don’t see how you gathered that, was a rather irrelevant point to start with anyway.

      2) I don’t think that was what he was saying.

      3) I’m sure you don’t expect everyone to go searching for turtles… Of course, one would expect people to be more careful in the posted zones but that only helps if one can actually see the turtle – which is pretty difficult to do if its underwater don’t you think? They don’t have to be on the surface to get hit. You must also go dead slow in unrestricted zones as well since you’re so busy scouting for turtles…

      4) I’m 100% certain turtles don’t spend all their time in the known areas they like to frequent… It’s entirely just as possible this collision happened in a unrestricted area and the turtle drifted where it was found as its possible it happened near where it was found.

      I doubt you’d even know if you actually hit a turtle if you did. Sure you might hear a change in the sound of the engine if the prop hit one, but are you going to recognize it was a turtle or some other submerged object? Do you stop and check for damage imediately or just brush it off? What if it the hull hits one? Can you recognize that it was a turtle or did the boat just bounce off a wave?

  6. James says:

    A friend has found four dead this year. All appear to have been hit by jet skis. No prop marks on them but some crushing.

    • Real says:

      James what an idiotic statement. How convenient to just blame the jetskiis. Because there were no prop marks it must be a jetski??? Does a boat not have a hull as well, and a MUCH WIDER ONE. Do you honestly think the only part of a boat that could possibly hit a turtle could be the prop. A boats hull is much, much larger and the surface area alone makes it more likely to hit a turtle.! Boats are much more difficult to maneuver making it harder to avoid turtles! A boat draws much more water even at top speed – meaning it sits deeper in the water, and again more likely to hit them! C’mon you really don’t believe what you said – or perhaps what you were told.

    • Ganja Mon says:

      lol, james is not very smart @real. Ease him and the other non boaters up a bit. They only repeat what other may have said…

  7. Sailor says:

    Jetskis are the real turtle killers.

    • Real says:

      Another narrow minded idiot boater! Open your eyes and your mind. Or are you one of the hundreds of captains that were out on the water this weekend operating their boats while under the influence! Funny how you boaters and sailors see the bad in anything jetski related, but you look the other way at boats that ignore no wake zones, dump beer bottles overboard (ever taken a dive in paradise lakes) , throw tangled fishing line overboard, drive while operating your boats. Hmmmmm, I often sit on friends boats and just smile at the double standards.

      My favorite was the time that the captain of a boat I was on called the police because three jetskiis were jumping waves and making circles in the middle of the great sound about 300′ away from our boat. Keep in mind we were approaching them – not them coming to us! When the police showed up we were near Dockyard and they had since moved on. The Captain of this boat WHILE TALKING TO THE POLICE was holding a beer. The police never flinched or said a word. They asked a few questions about the skis and went looking for them.

      Double standards for sure!

  8. down de road says:

    Thanks Rosy,

    Even your suggestion seems to be impossible for this lot posting but it does refer to what I wrote in my last paragraph. You are either one type or the other.

    • Unreal says:

      If you are so offended by the rationale surrounding the cause of these types of incidents, just wait til the round the island race this Sunday. I guess all the racers and supporters are the other type that you despise so much. Faux conservationists vs. others. What a crock.

      And btw the hawksbill turtle is endangered, the green turtle is not and are the ones that we see most often. It is also likely the species that unfortunately got struck.

      So get your facts straight before you step on your soap box.

  9. Loulou says:

    I agree that jet skis are a problem. They speed around like they own the place, don’t take notice of any signs etc.. They are never going to take any notice of anyone telling them to slow down though – certain kind of person that doesn’t listen to rules :(
    That said, I still think it wouldn’t hurt people to be extra cautious. Someone driving a boat should be looking where they are going anyway!

    • Real says:

      They speed around in areas where they can legally speed around! So what! A boater with twin 250HP engines can do 60 and it is no problem. See a jetski doing the same, and it is a problem.

      • Thomas Mahoney says:

        I think he refers to the jetskis that speed through timlin’s and the lakes. I am in the lakes almost every day and i have to say some jetskiers are respectful, but many are not.

  10. Campervan says:

    Lots of Nascar attitudes here. No suprises. Carry on turtle squashing and be sure to glue a turtle sticker to the side of your console if you bag one.

  11. Young observer says:

    I love nature, I love the animals in nature. All this bickering is ridiculous. The fact is accidents happen. No driver is the same. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a turtle, so I don’t know just how plentiful they are. I think what some people are trying to say here though is that just like when you’re driving on the road you should always drive at a speed that would allow you to prevent freak accidents. Some boats go so fast that it’s ridiculous. on a side note people shouldn’t assume that there is no way to avoid hitting a turtle that just appears in front of a boat. I’m pretty sure you have some panicky drivers that would likely swerve. Anyways I’m not here to argue Just simply stating my opinion.