Watch for Sea Turtles when Boating this Fall!

This green turtle was struck by a boat and found in Waquoit Bay. Photo courtesy of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Your attention on the water and your concern can help save these threatened and endangered species.

There have been at least five loggerhead and two leatherback sea turtles killed by boat strikes in Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay over the past two weeks, and fishermen are being urged to please keep a close eye out for sea turtles. There are four species feeding in Massachusetts waters this time of year, and with fall fishing quickly approaching its peak, it increases the likelihood of sea turtle boat strikes.

This leatherback washed up at Falmouth Heights/

This leatherback washed up at Falmouth Heights. Photo courtesy of Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

You’re most likely to see leatherbacks and loggerheads. Leatherbacks are huge, 4 feet or more in length, dark, with fore-and-aft ridges on their upper shell. Loggerheads in our waters are usually 2 to 3 feet long, tan/brown with yellow/orange around their heads and flippers. Loggerheads often have barnacles and algae on their upper shell. Both species sometimes bask at the surface, and swim at or just under the surface. A small powerboat could easily kill a loggerhead or a huge leatherback, and there have been had numerous boat strike fatalities in recent weeks.

Loggerheads often bask at the surface

Loggerheads often bask at the surface, often putting them at risk of a boat strike. Photo courtesy of Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Please watch the water in front of your boat, and remember that auto-pilots do not see sea turtles!

This leatherback was struck off of East Beach In Charlestown RI

This leatherback was struck off of East Beach In Charlestown RI.
Photo courtesy of Jim Sener.

If you see a free-swimming sea turtle please report it to the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay hotline at seaturtlesightings.org or 1-888-SEA-TURT. And if you see an entangled sea turtle, please call the Center for Coastal Studies’ hotline (800-900-3622) and stand by in your boat, if possible.

  1. Rod Miller

    Another big killer of sea turtles is plastic bags. When one blows over board, it looks just like a bite sized jelly fish that a sea turtle will never digest resulting in a long, slow starvation.

    We should all take our trash home PLUS more!

    Reply
  2. Whats the use

    Couldn’t agree more. Nice to know some people see the big picture. It was their home first, not ours!

    Reply

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