How Entanglement Kills Whales and Lots About Sea Turtles

Written by on May 22, 2013 in Marine Life

Daily Summary

Right whale tangled up in fishing gear.

Right whale tangled up in fishing gear. Photo credit: MyFWC Research via photopin cc.

Tangled Up in Fishing Gear

Watch this video from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to see how scientists were able to learn so much from one North Atlantic right whale who became entangled in hundreds of feet of fishing gear. The whale, EG 3911, was fitted with a Dtag that recorded her movements before, during and after disentanglement operations. The researchers found that while she was entangled, she was underweight and immediately after she was disentangled from most of the gear she swam faster, dove deeper and stayed under longer. EG 3911 showed researchers that entanglement in fishing gear hinders whales’ ability to eat and migrate, depletes their energy more quickly and can result in a slow death. To learn more, watch the video or read the whole article: Study reveals how fishing gear can cause slow death of whales.

And a lot of sea turtle news — good and bad

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Illegal Sea Turtle Egg Poaching on the Rise in Costa Rica.
Beaches in Costa Rica are important nesting sites for four endangered sea turtles and because of this, it’s been illegal to remove turtle eggs from those beaches since 1996. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped poachers who can make a pretty penny on the eggs which supposedly have aphrodisiac properties. A new study found that egg poaching is up 30 percent since the law was put into place, even though there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eggs act as aphrodisiacs.

Now for the good news: Sea turtle comeback in a corner of the Caribbean.
Poachers used to “ransack the turtles’ buried eggs” and kill the adults for their meat in the northeastern coast of Trinidad where leatherback sea turtles come to nest. Now, the critically endangered animals have become a major tourist attraction. People have become so devoted to these turtles that they won’t even let birds near the newly hatched babies. Their population has rebounded with nearly 500 females nesting each night during the peak season in May and June.

And we’ll end with a heartwarming one: Green sea turtle swims underwater for first time in 11 years thanks to world’s first dive belt built for endangered sea creatures.
Ali, a female green sea turtle, was hit by a boat back in 2001. Her giant shell was split open by the engine and she was left for dead. Luckily, she was rescued and her injuries healed, but she was left with a giant air pocket under her shell which prevented her from diving — she kept floating bottom up back to the surface. Thanks to Ali’s team of human helpers, she just made her first successful dive in 11 years with the help of a custom dive belt built exclusively for sea turtles.

Green sea turtle.

Green sea turtle. Photo credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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