The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released this image of a leatherback sea turtle they saved last week.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released this image of a leatherback sea turtle they saved last week.

An endangered leatherback sea turtle that was ensnared in a lobster buoy off Orient Point over the weekend was freed by marine law enforcement officers who spotted the reptile while on patrol.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officers discovered the 5-foot-long turtle tangled in rope on Saturday while patrolling near Plum Island in their Boston Whaler patrol boats.

“Saving such a large animal required a great deal of skill,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release. “The officers involved in this rescue should be commended for using their knowledge and boatmanship to rescue this magnificent animal.”

Last summer, Suffolk County police officers also saved a 6-foot-long leatherback turtle that became ensnared in lobster buoys in the Long Island Sound off Mount Sinai.

In the latest incident, the DEC officers reached overboard, grabbed the line that was wrapped around the animal’s midsection and cut it, freeing the turtle.

The species, the largest living turtle—and one of the largest living reptiles—can grow to more than 6-feet long and 2,000 pounds. They are recognizable by their large front flippers that allow them to swim great distances and can be found worldwide, including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

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Members of the public who find a sea turtle or other stranded marine wildlife can call the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation hotline at 631-369-9829.

Additional information on sea turtles found in New York State waters can be found by visiting the DEC’s website.

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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.