Sea Turtle Dies after Propeller Strike

The injured turtle was tagged in 2017 by STCB. Photo: STCB.

Kralendijk – On Easter Monday, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) received a call on the Hotline, reporting an injured sea turtle that had been hit by a boat. STCB staff examined the juvenile green turtle and concluded that the turtle had a propeller injury.

The damage to the shell was too severe for the turtle to recover. The carapace was cracked and the intestines of the turtle protruded through the openings in the shell. The turtle died shortly after STCB was alerted.

STCB believes that the increase in the number of boats and personal watercraft on Bonaire has led to more boat collisions with sea turtles. In the last five years, STCB has dealt with at least one report each year of a sea turtle killed as a result of a boat strike. Although sea turtles have hard carapaces, they cannot withstand the strike of a boat or the cut of a propeller; these injuries are often fatal.

STCB urges boaters to adhere to Bonaire’s boating regulations (‘rules of the road’) as taking simple measures can reduce the potential of boat collisions with marine life. Most importantly, all vessels are prohibited to take off at full speed until they are in the dark blue water and have to navigate on the seaside of the mooring buoys. Greater vessel speed increases the probability of collisions as sea turtles surface to breathe and often linger on the surface while breathing. The slower the rate of travel, the more likely a sea turtle will move out of harm’s way.

The juvenile green turtle that died yesterday as a result of a boat strike was PIT tagged by STCB in March 2017 at Petrie’s Pillar. The turtle weighed 2.4kg at the time and its carapace measured 28.3cm. Measurements taken on Easter Monday indicated that the turtle had gained 2.7kg and grown 8.5cm in approximately two years.

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