Thousands of Turtles Killed By Longline Fishing
Sea turtles were the second most common catch on Costa Rican fishermen’s longlines during the past decade. Sharks also suffered on the hooks.
A team of Americans and Costa Ricans estimated that longlines hooked more than 699,000 olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and 23,000 green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) between 1999 and 2010. Female olive ridleys made up 92,300 of the total. This represents a serious blow to the reproductive potential of the species, which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists as vulnerable. The IUCN lists green turtles as endangered.
Approximately 20 percent or 144,400 of the hooked turtles died. People freed the rest from the curved steel spikes and released them back into the sea. However no one knows if the ordeal seriously injured the animals.
“The effect of the rusty hooks may be to give the turtles a good dose of disease,” said James Spotila, an environmental scientist at Drexel University and co-author of the study published in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, in a press release. “No one knows because no one holds the turtle to see if it gets sick.”
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