A 5-foot-long leatherback sea turtle – the world’s largest living turtle and an endangered species – was rescued off Orient Point Saturday, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.
DEC officers on a routine patrol discovered the sea turtle trapped about two miles off of Orient Point in the “fast moving waters” of Plum Gut, according to a release. The turtle had become ensnared in the ropes of a lobster buoy, which were tangled around the animal’s lower torso, according to DEC officials.
The DEC officers were able to cut away buoy ropes, freeing the large turtle.
“Saving such a large animal required a great deal of skill and the officers involved in this rescue should be commended for using their knowledge and boatmanship to rescue this magnificent animal.” said DEC commissioner Joe Martens.
It is estimated that only 115,000 adult female leatherback sea turtles still exist, making them an endangered species at both state and federal levels according to the DEC.
The leatherback can grow up to 6-feet in length and weigh up to 1,300 pounds, earning its name for its leathery skin.
In the Atlantic, leatherback sea turtles are found regularly off the coast of New England, especially Massachusetts and the Gulf of Maine, and in Long Island waters, according to the release.