During the summer of 2018 I stumbled across (and later untangled) a massive leatherback turtle that was entangled in a lobster pot line inside Cape Cod Bay.
It was early September and I was motoring along in my boat, when I noticed a lobster buoy that was getting pulled under. My initial thought was "Wow the current must be strong today!"
Yet upon closer inspection I saw a huge dark mass beneath the water. Moments later an enormous head appeared next to the colorful lobster buoy. It was a leatherback sea turtle, and a pretty big one at that!
Sometimes when you find an entangled turtle, it is too late, and the turtle has already died from exhaustion and drowned. However this turtle was still strong and healthy looking, so I knew there was a high likelihood of being able to save him.
I approached the turtle to get a closer look at the situation. In the clear water and with the aid of the bright sunshine above, I could actually see fish swimming around the turtle. They weren't attached to the turtle but they were following close by, apparently using the turtle as a form of cover.
My friend Jeff then came over to the scene and tossed a small epoxy jig into the water. These small fish went crazy for the jig and immediately latched on, providing Jeff with a pretty good fight - and man were they pretty looking!
No matter how hard I tried, I was not having any success untangling the turtle. Each time I approached the turtle he would dive down, dragging the lobster buoy underwater. Finally I decided to call in the experts.
The Provincetown Center For Coastal Studies
If you come across an entangled sea turtle off Cape Cod, then the best thing you can do is give the Provincetown Center For Coastal Studies a call at 800-900-3622. These folks have all the right equipment and experience to rescue the turtle quickly and easily.
I got in contact with Maria, who works for the center, and she asked if I would standy-by with the turtle until her crew could arrive on scene. It was about an 18 mile ride from Provincetown to get to the turtle, so I agreed that yes I would happily remain on scene with the turtle and make sure nothing happened to him.
The team arrived within the hour and immediately got to work. I captured the entire experience on video (including some cool underwater shots of the turtle) which you can watch by clicking play below!
You just never know what you may encounter when you go fishing off Cape Cod. In years past I have stumbled across stranded whales, dolphins, great white sharks and even this manatee!
With the Cape's unique geographic structure, the land mass of the Cape itself sticks out into the Atlantic, attracting and "catching" all sorts of interesting creatures in its bays, harbors and along its many beaches and shoals.
As I like to often say, catching fish is just a bonus here on Cape Cod, and being able to help rescue this entangled leatherback sea turtle is just another fine example of that saying.