A large juvenile green sea turtle arrived at our Sea Turtle Healing Center on February 9 after being found south of Sebastian Inlet State Park. In general, this turtle appeared to be in good shape – they had good body condition, were strong, appeared alert and responsive. But one major problem put this turtle in serious trouble: A braided line fishing net.
The turtle, who was named Stromboli upon arrival to the Healing Center, had consumed a ghost net, or a fishing net that was lost or abandoned in the ocean or waterway. A single line of the net caused a deep furrow in the corner of this turtle’s mouth. While some of the line was able to be removed upon intake, we suspected the line went well into Stromboli’s digestive tract.
An exploratory endoscopy performed by our veterinary team allowed us to follow a single line of net past the turtle’s stomach into the duodenum, or first part of the small intestine. The line appeared to be embedded, so we were unable to visualize the end of the line during this procedure. Because there was tension on the line, we were unable to pull the line out, so it was cut as far down as possible.
We are hopeful that Stromboli will naturally pass the remaining line without complication, but we are closely monitoring them. Stromboli is on antibiotics and will receive weekly ultrasounds to ensure that the line doesn’t get caught in the turtle’s intestines – a situation in which our veterinary staff would need to perform surgery to remove the line.
Our Sea Turtle Healing Center sees dozens of sea turtle patients each year. Last year alone, we saw over 100 patients come through our doors with a variety of illnesses or injuries. While some of the reasons for stranding are related to natural causes or marine predators, many cases are unfortunate consequences of human behavior.
While we are cautiously optimistic about Stromboli’s prognosis, entanglement in fishing equipment is one of the greatest threats to marine life. Remember to pack your gear before and after use, and place unwanted monofilament line in the designated bins at waterfront parks. If you accidentally hook a sea turtle call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.
Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646.