Turtle rescued from near-fatal entanglement

Issued: 28 Aug 2023

Marine rangers have saved the life of an adult turtle after cutting it free from a crab pot in a dramatic rescue near Lamb Island.

Marine Park Ranger Georgie Sneesby said the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service were conducting a joint patrol with the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol in Moreton Bay on 16 August 2023.

“We received a call from a member of the public, who advised us that a large turtle was caught in a crab pot near Lamb Island,” Ms Sneesby said.

“When we arrived on scene, we found an adult green sea turtle struggling to keep its head above water, and rope from the crab pot was tightly wrapped around its neck and both front flippers.

“While attempting to cut the main line to the crab pot, we realised the pot was stuck in the muddy sea floor.

“After cutting the turtle free from the crab pot’s main line, we pulled the pot on board to ensure it had been removed from the environment.

“Although we had removed part of the entanglement, we had to unwind the rest of the rope from its neck, and cut rope from her left flipper.

“Thankfully the turtle remained calm during the rescue, did not appear to have any injuries and was released immediately after the entanglement was removed.”

Ms Sneesby said marine park rangers were seeing an increase in derelict crab pots and functional crab pots causing entanglements throughout Queensland.

“Working crab pots, derelict crab pots and discarded anchor ropes can become killing machines because they can ‘ghost fish’ for years and can trap marine animals inside the pot or entangle them in the ropes,” she said.

“Recent entanglements in working crab pots, derelict pots and other discarded marine rope include turtles, wobbegong sharks and a juvenile dugong.

“Fishers need to ensure they use their crab pots responsibly, check their pots regularly whilst they are being used and remove them from the water when not being used instead of being discarded.

“We would like to thank the member of the public who reported the entanglement to us, and stayed at the scene until we arrived.

“That person played a big part in the turtle being successfully released alive.”

Anyone who comes across entangled, stranded, injured, or deceased marine animals should immediately report it to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service by calling 1300 130 372.

Unmarked, lost, or abandoned crab pots can be reported to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116. People are encouraged to report an accurate location or GPS coordinates of the equipment.

Tips for responsible crab pot use include:

  • Only use traps that weigh 3kg or more, so it drops to the sea floor.
  • Use weighted or non-buoyant line so it drops under the surface and reduces the risk of entanglement
  • Add a vertical line to pots with wide openings to prevent unwanted wildlife entering the pot.
  • Check your pots regularly and don’t forget about them

View photos and videos of the rescue in the media centre.