In a one minute video sent to the News Herald by Wade Lomax, a visitor from Tennessee, a group of people is seen carefully cutting the flapping turtle out from the net in front of Splash Resort in Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH — The rough waves and other obstacles during the weekend turned out to be a challenge even for some sea creatures.

A small green sea turtle found itself in need of help this weekend, after getting caught in spare fishing nets and washing up in front of Splash Resort.

 

In a one-minute video sent to The News Herald by Wade Lomax, a visitor from Tennessee, a group of people is seen carefully cutting the flapping turtle out from the net. After a quick photo op that lasted less than 15 seconds, the turtle was released back into the waves where it quickly disappeared as a crowd of mostly children yelled goodbye.

The experience was “incredible,” Lomax said.

This turtle was lucky to find some help.

A study by the University of Exeter in 2017 found that at least 1,000 sea turtles die in similar situations where they get caught in ghost fishing lines — the term for lost or discarded fishing gear — every year, and the study’s author noted the fatalities were likely higher than that. Hatchlings and young turtles seem particularly likely to become entangled, according to the study.

It’s not just marine debris that’s trapping turtle. Last year, a turtle died on Santa Rosa Beach after becoming trapped in a bar stool. And if turtles aren’t being trapped in marine debris, there is the fear of ingesting it. A different study, this one by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, found that half of all turtles have ingested some plastic.

That same study found that even one piece of plastic can be enough to kill a turtle.

When a turtle strands, people are encouraged to report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. While this case might have worked out, sometimes stranded wildlife have other issues — such an pneumonia — that aren’t readily apparent and could require further treatment.

To report a stranding, call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1-888-404-3922. Someone from the 24-hour hotline will advise how to best handle the situation.

This story originally published to newsherald.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.