Hook Prevention and Removal

How to Prevent Accidentally Hooking Sea Turtles

  • Never leave fishing gear unattended in the water for any length of time, and check bait often
  • Retrieve and dispose of monofilament fishing line in a monofilament recycling bin
  • Avoid areas where turtles gather, such as seagrass beds
  • Use live bait, which is less attractive to sea turtles
  • Fish sunset to sunrise when sea turtles are least active
  • Clean your catch away from water to avoid attracting sea turtles
  • Use barbless circle hooks: These are better for fish, better for turtles, better for you
    • Barbed hooks can be modified by crimping the barbs down with pliers to help minimize injury
How to make hooks barbless.

What To Do If You Accidentally Hook a Sea Turtle

If possible, DO NOT return sea turtles to the water with hooks intact, instead:

  • Step 1: Don’t Panic! You will not get in trouble for accidentally hooking sea turtles, so please report it!
  • Step 2: Call the sea turtle hotline 1-866-TURTLE-5 for help
  • Step 3: Provide your contact information and location as well as the animal’s size and condition
  • Step 4: Gently reel in the slack-line, keeping the animal above water to breathe
  • Step 5: DO NOT tug or pull on the line; minimize injury by reducing tension
  • Step 6: If possible, lift the turtle out of the water by its shell or use a dip net and bring it onto a boat or land
  • Step 7: Place turtle on a cushioned surface, such as a tire, and DO NOT flip onto its back unless instructed
  • Step 8: Keep the turtle wet and in a shaded area constantly when out of water
  • Step 9: Cut the line, but leave at least 1 foot with the hook to help rescuers remove it later
  • Step 10: Stay with the animal and wait for rescuers