State cautions boaters to look for leatherback turtles

State cautions boaters to look for leatherback turtles

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With the recent rescues of two leatherback turtles last week off Cape Cod, state marine biologists are urging recreational boaters and commercial fishermen to be on the lookout for the migrating endangered species.

From June to October, leatherback turtles, which were placed on the endangered species list in 1970, migrate through Massachusetts coastal waters to feed on jellyfish. While here, they are at risk for being entangled in buoy lines and struck by vessels.

Ted Karalekas called The Times Monday to report he saw a large leatherback off Makonikey on the Island’s north shore.

Leatherback turtles can grow to five to seven feet long and can weigh between 500 to 2,000 pounds. They are black with a soft shell and distinctive ridges running down their back.

Boaters who sight an entangled turtle are asked to notify the Massachusetts Sea Turtle Disentanglement Hotline at 800-900-3622.