KAUAI, Hawaii (WFLA) — A 150-pound sea turtle had to be euthanized after a propeller from a speeding boat shattered its shell and injured its spinal cord, Hawaii officials said.
Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources wrote about the turtle on its Facebook page Friday, saying its the 22nd turtle injured by boats since March — a concerning number.
“Unfortunately, most sea turtles struck by boats do not survive,” the posts says. “This year only one turtle was sent to the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute for Rehabilitation before being released back to the ocean to live another day.”
This turtle was reportedly struck at Māhāʻulepū, Gillins beach on the island of Kauai. It was transported to O’ahu to be examined by turtle veterinarians, with hope that it may survive its injuries and one day return to the wild.
When Shandell Brunson, NOAA’s Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator, arrived with the turtle at the veterinary clinic, it was barely moving. NOAA veterinarian Dr. Gregg Levine transported it to an examination room, where he noted a couple obvious injuries: A large wound that exposed a large portion of the lungs and damage to the spinal cord.
Additionally, Levine said the turtle’s flippers were hyperextended and not mobile, further indicating damage to the spinal cord.
Given the severity of the trauma to the shell and apparent spinal cord injury, doctors made the decision to humanely euthanize the turtle.
“Whatever the outcome, far too many turtles are being struck by boats, and other vessels. We need everyone to slow down and pay attention,” said Ed Underwood, Administrator of the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR). “Clearly not all ocean-goers are getting the message and many probably don’t even know they struck a turtle because they’re either going to fast or not paying attention to what’s happening in the water around them.”
Officials say many turtle boat strikes occur in relatively shallow waters, typically in or near small boat harbors and boat ramps where speed limits and no-wake zones are in effect.