VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center says this April had the highest number of critically endangered sea turtles recorded by the Stranding Response Program.
The aquarium said three hooked sea turtles were found on Saturday, April 30, marking the highest number of hooked sea turtles recorded in the month of April. It’s also the second April on record in which hooked sea turtles were reported.
Since the end of April, seven hooked sea turtles have been found. All of them are Kemp’s ridley turtles, which are critically endangered and part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) conservation program.
They were taken to the Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center for health assessment.
The turtles were hooked near local fishing piers in Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. All those piers partner with the aquarium’s Pier Partner Program.
Sea turtles are typically hooked during recreational fishing season, which is mostly in May and June. However, they can be hooked as late as September.
The aquarium said all the turtles are in stable condition and will be released once they meet certain criteria — which can take within 24 hours, or take days, weeks or months.
All turtles that were hooked are named after cereals, a theme that was voted on by the community on social media earlier in 2022.
Per the aquarium, here are the turtles that have been recovered so far as of May 10:
- Saturday, April 30 at Oceanview Fishing Pier in Norfolk
- Kix and Trix were hooked in the flipper and the hooks have been removed. Both turtles are expected to recover and be released.
- Saturday, April 30 at Buckroe Fishing Pier in Hampton
- Special K was hooked in its carapace or shell and the hook has been removed.
- Additional hook fragments are shown in its stomach on radiographs.
- Found Monday, May 2 at Virginia Beach Fishing Pier; Released Tuesday, May 3
- Fruit Loops was reported hooked and caught in a fishing line. It did not have further health concerns and met immediate release criteria. The turtle was released on Tuesday, May 3
- Friday, May 6 at Virginia Beach Fishing Pier
- Cocoa Pebbles was hooked in esophagus and the hook has been removed. The turtle is recovering from the hook removal procedure and is expected to be released.
- Saturday, May 7 at Virginia Beach Fishing Pier
- Granola was reported to have swallowed a hook, but no hooks were found externally or on radiographs. The turtle was released on Monday, May 9
- Saturday, May 7 at Buckroe Fishing Pier in Hampton
- Grape Nuts was hooked in the corner of the mouth. The turtle is expected to be released once recovered from the hook removal procedure
Anyone who sees a stranded, entangled, or hooked turtle should call the Stranding Response Team’s 24-hour hotline at (757) 385-7575.