An endangered 6 feet long Leatherback sea turtle entangled in the lines of several lobster pots in the Long Island Sound was rescued Monday night in an operation that lasted more than three hours, Suffolk County police said.
Marine Bureau police officers were on routine patrol just before 9 p.m. when a boater radioed that a very large sea turtle was entangled in the lobster pots one mile north of Mount Sinai Harbor.
When officers located the 1,000-lb. turtle it appeared to be in distress and was having difficulty breathing, police said. They managed to free one of its flippers but were unable to remove the remaining lines.
Personnel from the Riverhead Foundation Rescue Program were called to assist the officers. Rescuers used lights, cutting tools, and poles for more than three hours and eventually freed the turtle.
The Leatherback is a species of turtle on the endangered list, officials said. The rescued turtle is a female of breeding age. Once freed, the turtle appeared to calm down and swam away, police said.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Leatherback is the largest and deepest diving of all sea turtles. This species can reach 4 to 8 feet in length and can weigh between 500 and 2,000 pounds.