Tale of a Turtle Untangled

The carcass of an adult leatherback turtle
The carcass of an adult leatherback turtle was found on the beach just east of Beach Lane in Wainscott on Friday. Lisa Lakeman

    A crew from the Montauk Coast Guard station saved a large leatherback sea turtle that had become entangled in line from a lobster pot trawl off Montauk on July 11.
    “They did a great job. It was a pleasure to work with them,” said Kim Durham, a biologist with the Riverhead Foundation for Ocean Research and Preservation.
    Ms. Durham said foundation personnel were able to talk directly to those aboard the Coast Guard vessel. One of the station’s 47-foot patrol boats happened to be only 10 minutes away from the stricken turtle when another boater reported its dilemma.
    “We were able to give them one-on-one training by phone in the freeing technique. The main thing is, you don’t want to cut the one line that would free them and have all the gear go with them. You want to study it, like a puzzle.”
    Ms. Durham said the big turtle was secured alongside the vessel. It had two wraps of line around its neck, four around its front flippers. “It was an adult, big, so you take your time. They carefully unwrapped it. We try to save the fishing gear, but we couldn’t in this case.”
    The turtle swam away “with a few scars and abrasions, but nothing of concern,” Ms. Durham reported.
    She said the female leatherback was not the same one found, headless, washed up on the beach east of Beach Lane in Wainscott on Friday. Ms. Durham said that animal was too decomposed to allow a foundation team to determine the cause of death.