This past Sunday TISIRI's Larry Davis encountered a dead loggerhead turtle during a recreational dive off the coast of Jacksonville. Based on Larry's observations we decided to send a team back out to relocate the turtle, confirm the death was due to entanglement, and remove any entanglement hazards still attached to the remains. Below is a brief video clip of the turtle that was encountered showing Davis's footage from Sunday and Kistel's footage from Thursday (only 4 days after the original discovery).
Entanglement is a real problem for sea turtles and other marine life here in North Florida. However it is an "out-of -sight out-of-mind" situation as the impact of underwater entanglements goes largely unseen. At a local level we have offshore habitats including artificial and natural reefs. These areas are visited and utilized by primarily fishermen. Over time, like any resource utilized by humans, these destinations accumulate byproduct of visitors. In the case of reef habitat much of this byproduct is fishing line and anchor rope, both which are entanglement hazards. These materials do not readily biodegrade and continue to accumulate. They have the potential to cause harm as long as they remain below.
We at TISIRI feel offshore habitats should be treated with ongoing maintenance programs much like on-land attractions. Anything that is utilized by humans needs maintenance and underwater habitats are no exception. We perform reef cleaning initiatives when we are able. Click here to see a National Geographic story of one of our underwater habitat entanglement removal projects.
This unfortunately is not the only entangled sea turtle we have come across while investigating north Florida reefs. In fact it is not all that uncommon to see such a dreadful site. The good news is that when we perform a reef cleaning objective we are able to remove the majority of line that can lead to entanglement. However we have only been able to clean a few reefs thus far and need to scale-up efforts to service the seemingly countless amount of fishing habitats offshore this region.
These types of efforts are resource dependent and we are only able to preform cleaning task when we have the funds to do so. We are hopeful we will be able to secure the necessarily resources to scale up our entanglement removal program and reduce the deaths of animals like the turtle in the video. Please consider supporting our initiative by making a contribution to TISIRI.