Turtle Monitors Appeal for Assistance
Check that your crab pots have turtle excluders fitted to them, then prompt your friends to do the same.
By Chris Leonard
I recently wrote an article for the Coochie Island News concerning efforts that local responders undertake to deal with turtles both on our beaches and in the water surrounding our beautiful island. The article was mainly prompted because of a callout to a turtle that had been trapped and then drowned in a crab pot. This otherwise healthy creature, in my view, should still be swimming in the ocean.
That was back in November 2022. Since that time, we have now dealt with a total of four similar cases. All needless events if some small steps had been taken by crab pot owners to take personal responsibility for their actions.
Please help us and all marine life by taking a careful look at your own pots and then prompt any of your mates/friends to do the same. First, check that your crab pots have turtle excluders fitted to them. I know that mine didn’t and it is such a simple thing to do so.
The excluder cord fitted at each opening will minimize the chance of the turtle getting into the pot but will have no effect on crabs trying to get in.
Make sure that the float rope is weighted so that it hangs vertically in the water. This reduces the possibility of a floating rope being cut by a boat propeller and the now-lost pot, becoming a ghost pot that will continue to trap and kill all sorts of marine life.
Most pots we come across have had the float ropes cut. The weight can be anything that is easily attached approximately 1.5 to 2m below the float. Check your pots regularly. Ideally, collect them on the same day. Please don’t leave them unattended for days at a time.
Ensure that pots are placed in a sufficient depth of water so that they are not exposed at low tide. There have been cases where birds have also been snared trying to get at the bait parcels.
These are not onerous steps to take and I know the majority of people want to do the right thing. Generally, it is a one-time thing that then becomes second nature.
I am encouraged by the fact that since my last article, several people have contacted me wanting further advice. As a free service, we are offering to retrofit anybody’s pots if they are not sure what to do.