Riverhead Foundation, Coast Guard Free Entangled Leatherback Turtle

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A leatherback turtle, tangled in fishing gear in Gardiner’s Bay, was freed on July 4, appropriately enough, by a team from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, with help from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The turtle, which the foundation estimated to be about 4 feet long and weigh 600 pounds, was spotted about two miles east of Gardiner’s Island by the Madeleine, a vessel out of Quanset, Rhode Island, which reported the sighting to the Coast Guard’s Montauk Station. The Coast Guard, in turn, notified the Riverhead Foundation at about 5:45 p.m. and provided a boat to the scene for Kimberly Durham, the foundation’s Rescue Program director, and Julika Wocial, its Rescue Program supervisor. They were able to free the animal by about 8:10 p.m.

“This operation was a success thanks to the concerned members of the public who reported the animal and then went back to relocate it, and to the quick response and invaluable resources of the USCG Station Montauk,” said Ms. Wocial in a press release.

Leatherback sea turtles are an endangered species. Reports of injured or distressed seals, dolphins, whales or sea turtles can be reported to the Riverhead Foundation’s hot line at (631) 369-9829.

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