Coast Guard rescues giant leather-backed turtle from lobster gear south of Great Duck Island

Posted Aug. 09, 2012, at 11:53 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 09, 2012, at 5:03 p.m.

JONESPORT, Maine — A giant leather-backed turtle was rescued Wednesday morning by a U.S. Coast Guard crew that noticed the creature was entangled in lobster pot rigging a half-mile south of Great Duck Island. The island is in the Gulf of Maine south of Mount Desert Island.

“We were boarding a lobster boat for an inspection and noticed there was some unusual activity on a nearby lobster pot rigging,” said Senior Chief Michael Koch, the officer in charge of the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Moray, an 87-foot patrol boat based in Jonesport. “Our crew was able to switch from an inspection mode to a marine mammal rescue situation.”

Koch estimates that the turtle was 5 feet long and weighed between 300 and 400 pounds.

“We all cheered when we were able to untangle the turtle and see it swim free,” he said. “It was a good feeling.”

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An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Great Duck Island is in Frenchman Bay. The island is in the Gulf of Maine south of Mount Desert Island.

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