During the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation’s (BMMRO) Whale Camp in early July the group led by Felice Knowles (Biologist and Manatee Specialist, and Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator) rescued a captive injured turtle in the Sandy Point area.
Ms. Knowles said that around 3pm the group was in the area of the Sandy Point Creek when the turtle was spotted “upside down on a pallet”.
She called the authorities to request their presence to assure it was done safely and without any disputes and then the team began their rescue effort.
She noted that when they arrived at the shore, it was realized that the turtle was not only tied to the pallet but also had a spear in the back of its head and was unable to move.
The team used trash surrounding the scene and wet the turtle to restore moisture in its skin and eyes. A’Nyce Butler (BMMRO whale camper) photo documented some of this as she assisted with keeping the turtle wet.
Ms. Knowles asked a local, Bradley Fox, to use his bolt cutters to cut the spear. Sergeant Higgs from the Sandy Point Police Station arrived at the scene and offered to collect the bolt cutters, and then left. Sergeant Higgs said that with no hard evidence that nothing could be done.
After several attempts the team could not get the spear cut and a decision was made to roll the turtle over. Cyril Lewis and Paul Roberts of the Young Marine Explorers (BMMRO whale campers) were able to flip the turtle over as Felice Knowles assured that the flippers were tucked, Ms. Knowles recounted.
“Little to our surprise, the turtle was in good condition and quickly scurried off the shore into the water. Anneicia Cole (BNT intern and BMMRO whale camper) did an excellent job and continued to observe the turtle as it swam away with the spear standing out of the water.”
The team followed the turtle into the creek and Ms. Knowles decided that it would be best to remove the spear as only a small portion was in the turtle. Ann-Marie Carroll (BMMRO intern) and Melissa Ingraham (BMMRO whale camper) were able to get close enough and dislodge the spear at about 5:15 pm.
She said that Janae Williams (BMMRO intern) got underwater footage of the turtle with the spear and without it. The turtle was observed for a short time to assure that it was in good condition. Upon a last pass, the turtle was no longer bleeding. It was observed from a distance resting on the bottom and taking healthy breaths.
Ms. Knowles said she congratulates these young Bahamians on their passion and determination. “They knew that something wrong had been done and they had to make it right. Good deeds like this should not go unnoticed and I am telling their story with pleasure. I did my best to mention everyone by name, but this was a group effort and everyone played an important role during the entire mission.”