Virginia Beach

Va. Aquarium's stranding team sees increase in sea turtles hooked by fishermen

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) -- More than a dozen sea turtles are now in the care of the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Team. 

All of the sea turtles are recovering from the same injury, getting hooked by local fisherman.

"A lot of sea turtles, especially when they're coming into our area, will look for a quick meal and steal some bait off of local fisherman," said Erin Bates, the interim live animal care coordinator for the stranding response program.

Bates says it's usually right around this time of year they start to see this happening, so they started a pier partner program.

"We encourage fishermen not to remove it at the pier, because they can cause more damage than the initial hooking," said Bates.

She says this lets letting fishermen know what do if they do catch a sea turtle.

"Theres a special net there that they'll use to lift the turtle onto the pier, as well as special boxes to keep it there until we can arrive." said Bates.

Each of the sea turtles are brought to the aquarium, where they get their hook removed.

There's been 17 reports of sea turtles getting caught on hooks, and 13 are now getting rehabilitated.

Some hooks can easily be taken out, while others can get stuck in places that cause a lot of pain for the sea turtle. 

In this case, experts have to put them under anesthesia to remove it.  

"They could be here anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months depending on how bad it is," said Bates.

Bates says they usually see Kemp's ridley and loggerhead sea turtles this time of year, but will start to see green sea turtles coming in around October and November.

If you're fishing on a pier or even out on a boat and accidentally hook a sea turtle, or even see one that looks injured, you can call the sea turtle stranding response team at 757-385-7575.


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