The Riverhead Foundation and the Coast Guard helped free a leatherback turtle that got caught in a lobster trap yesterday afternoon.
The marine life rescue and rehabilitation groups wrote on its Facebook that the Coast Guard contacted them about the turtle, which was found a mile off Montauk:
Our biologists quickly assembled our disentanglement gear and began the drive out east. Upon arriving in Montauk, the response team was taken out to the entangled sea turtle with the assistance of the Coast Guard.
Our biologists successfully removed the lobster trap from the animal, which quickly dove under the water and swam away freely. The members of the Coast Guard that assisted with the disentanglement decided to call the distressed Leatherback “Oriskany”. The “Oriskany” was a U.S. aircraft carrier that was sunk in May 2006 and is now an artificial reef.
We would like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard for reporting this animal and for their assistance with our response. Please remember to report all sightings to our 24-hour hotline 631-369-9829
Apparently the five-foot turtle had a rope around its neck and flippers! Leatherbacks are the largest turtles in the world; according to NOAA, "Leatherbacks don't have the crushing chewing plates characteristic of other sea turtles that feed on hard-bodied prey (Pritchard 1971). Instead, they have pointed tooth-like cusps and sharp-edged jaws that are perfectly adapted for a diet of soft-bodied pelagic (open ocean) prey, such as jellyfish and salps. A leatherback's mouth and throat also have backward-pointing spines that help retain such gelatinous prey."