Wes Mundy, left, and John Silverstein of the Department of Land and Natural Resources yesterday recovered a dead turtle caught in fishing net in Hauula about 200 yards offshore. Mundy said the turtle bore no tumors and apparently was in good health prior to being trapped. He estimated the turtle had been dead for one to two days.

Fishing gear kills
sea turtle, snares

Volunteers are looking for
the second animal
along the North Shore

One green sea turtle was found dead in a fishing net off Hauula yesterday while another is believed to be entangled in fishing line on the North Shore and is the subject of a volunteer search.

At least two groups have been hunting for a turtle that had been spotted on the North Shore with a fishing line wrapped around its right flipper and fishing line coming out of its mouth.

Marlu West of Save the Sea Turtles said Monday night there have been 10 sightings of a turtle caught in fishing line at Waimea Point, Chun's Reef and Pohakuloa Way, the first on Friday evening. She fears the turtle may drown if it is not found soon.

Pat Johnson, owner of Deep Ecology dive shop on the North Shore, said one of the shop's guides went out with about seven volunteers, including three customers.

"Like everyone, they're so moved by the turtles," Johnson said. "They're just magical, their gentleness and beauty."

A visiting biologist spotted the turtle Sunday with fishing line around its neck and flipper and line coming out of its mouth, and e-mailed the shop Monday about his discovery.

Green sea turtles are listed as threatened in Hawaii by the federal government. Last year, about 275 sea turtles were stranded statewide. Less than 5 percent were probably due to fishing net entanglement, which usually results in death since they are forced underwater, said George Balazs, chief researcher for the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service's Marine Turtle Research Division.

Fishing line entanglement is a concern because it causes a lot of suffering, Balazs said. Snarled fishing lines usually break and tighten around a flipper, causing severe injury and rotting, leading to amputation.

The turtle found in Hauula was caught in 100 feet of net about 200 yards offshore. A diver reported it to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Two DLNR conservation and resource enforcement officers found the dead 70-pound male turtle about 9:45 a.m. yesterday and took about two hours to recover the animal and the net.

DLNR officer Wes Mundy estimated the turtle had been dead for one to two days, but the net had not been checked for one to two weeks, a violation of fishing rules.

"Aside from having been caught in the net, it looks like it was in great health," Mundy said. "It didn't have any tumors or anything on it."

For information on protecting turtles from fishing lines and nets, call the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service at 983-5730.


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