News Releases

FWC rescues displaced leatherback from Intracoastal in Martin Co.

News Release

Monday, May 23, 2011

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

Officers and biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescued a displaced adult female leatherback sea turtle from the Intracoastal Waterway off Hobe Sound Friday afternoon.

"The sea turtle was behaving unusually, so FWC staff determined a rescue was necessary," said FWC biologist Meghan Koperski.

After receiving a report from a citizen, FWC officers located the turtle, and staff evaluated its behavior as it swam back and forth from shore to shore. Biologists used a net to capture the turtle and bring it on board the rescue boat.

The turtle was then carried out past Jupiter Inlet and released offshore unharmed.

Named for its soft, rubbery shell, the leatherback sea turtle is the largest sea turtle. Adults typically weigh between 700 and 1,000 pounds and reach 4 to 8 feet in length. The leatherback turtle is an endangered species.

It is unusual for leatherback sea turtles to be found in inshore water, as they are an offshore species. FWC biologists believe this particular leatherback may have been a nesting female that became trapped in the Intracoastal after going through the Jupiter Inlet. In Florida, leatherbacks nest almost exclusively on the east coast. In fact, most leatherback nesting occurs in Palm Beach and Martin counties.

To report a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC. The FWC's website contains information about sea turtles and information on sea turtle research and nesting data.

FWC Facts:
The use of sirens or flashing, occulting or revolving lights on any vessel is prohibited except where expressly allowed by law.

Learn More at AskFWC