When the Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau needed help freeing a 1,000-pound sea turtle entangled in the lines of several lobster pots in Long Island Sound Monday night, the unit called the Riverhead Foundation’s Rescue Program.
Two Marine Bureau officers received word of the distressed sea turtle around 8:40 p.m. Monday. The officers maneuvered their boat, M-Delta, into position about a mile north of Mount Sinai Harbor to free the turtle, but could only untie one of its flippers. The officers requested help and a second marine boat, M-Bravo, transported Julika Wocial, Riverhead Foundation’s Rescue Program Supervisor, and Kimberly Durham, Rescue Program Director. Together, they worked with the officers for more than three hours using lights, cutting tools and poles to free the massive turtle.
Wocial and Durham said it was a female Leatherback sea turtle — which is endangered —that was about 6 feet long.
The turtle — agitated while tied up — reportedly calmed down once freed and swam away on its own.
The Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau encourages boaters to immediately report any sightings of stranded or entangled marine life so a similar outcome can be achieved.