CMA seeing unusually high amount of sea turtles with boat strike injuries
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Clearwater Marine Aquarium says it has seen an influx of injuries, even fatalities, among sea turtles and other wildlife, due to high numbers of boaters out on the water this summer.
"With the business of summer and a lot more people out there we are running into a lot more turtles, or even other marine life, that have encountered some kind of watercraft trauma," stated Cassandra Starr, a sea turtle rehabilitation specialist with Clearwater Marine Aquarium. "So far this year, we've seen 33 turtles that have been affected by some kind of watercraft, unfortunately only four of them have actually come in alive."
She says 85% of the turtles that come in alive end up dying or succumbing to their injuries.
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"You guys are our eyes, so people out there on boats, people out there on beaches, even our own nesting team does patrol every morning and they’ll come across a turtle that has been impacted," Starr said.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is seeing a large amount of sea turtles coming in with boat strikes.
To help avoid striking marine life, CMA recommends:
- Following designated boating signals such as slow speed and minimum wake signs
- Having a designated spotter on your boat that can alert you to any wildlife that may be around
- Wearing polarized sunglasses, which helps people see better under the water and the animals that may be close to the boat or underneath it.
So far this year CMA has seen 33 turtles that have been affected by some kind of watercraft, unfortunately only four of them have actually came in alive."
"If you see any animal, especially sea turtles, out in the water, they’ll typically hear you and will evade and swim away. However, if you notice that they are actually at the surface and you’re kind of getting a little closer and notice that they are not evading or swimming away, something could be wrong," shared Hannah Rogers: biologist at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. "You are out in these animal’s space - so respect them and be aware, so we can help prevent injuries in the future."
An injured sea turtle recovers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
If you think you may have struck an animal, CMA recommends staying in the area, keeping your eyes on the animal and calling the CMA hotline at 727-441-1790 or the FWC wildlife hotline at 1-888-404-3922.