Northeast Sea Turtle Program

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Kemp's Ridley Turtle

Northeast Region
Sea Turtle Disentanglement Network

Leatherback Turtle


Sea turtles can become accidentally entangled in active or discarded fixed fishing gear and other materials. These entanglements may prevent the recovery of endangered and threatened sea turtle populations. In response to high numbers of leatherback sea turtles found entangled in the vertical lines of fixed gear in the Northeast Region, the NOAA Fisheries Service Northeast Region established the Northeast Atlantic Coast Sea Turtle Disentanglement Network (STDN). Formally established in 2002, the STDN is an important component of the National Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. The STDN works to reduce serious injuries and mortalities caused by entanglements.


Entangled Leatherback
Entangled Leatherback
Photo: Don Lewis
Whelk Pot
Whelk Pot
Photo: Kara Dodge, NOAA
Entangled Leatherback
Entangled Leatherback
Photo: M. Cook, VAQS


What To Do If You Encounter An Entangled Sea Turtle

Call for emergency response immediately and visually monitor the animal from a distance until you speak with a responder, or they arrive on scene:


NMFS Northeast Region Stranding Hotline at 866-755-NOAA (6622)
Call the US Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16
In Massachusetts - Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies at 1-800-900-3622
In all other states - Contact your local Stranding Network



What You Can Do To Help: Information You Can Provide To The Emergency Responders

When you see an entangled turtle, first disengage your engine and observe the animal from a distance. Collect the following information and relay the details to the emergency responders (phone numbers listed above).

  • Is animal moving, swimming or diving?
  • How and where is the turtle entangled: its flippers, head, or shell?
  • How many times is the line wrapped around the turtle?
  • Is there a buoy visible? What color is it? Is there an ID number visible?
  • If you have a camera on board, take photos of the turtle and the entangling gear. Please provide the photos to the responders, if requested.




Safety Tips

  • Do not attempt to disentangle or capture the turtle
  • Do not cut the anchoring line and release the turtle with gear still on it
  • Do not get in the water with the turtle
  • Definitely call for assistance (phone numbers above) and remain on scene until you speak with a responder.

Entangled Leatherback
Entangled Leatherback
Photo: NOAA
Entangled Leatherback
Entangled Leatherback
Photo: M. Cook, VAQS

For more information, please contact Kate Sampson, Northeast Region Sea Turtle Stranding and Disentanglement Coordinator, at (978) 282-8470.

Black and White Sea Turtle Drawings Illustrated by Jack Javech, NMFS

For more information on the stranding program, please contact

Last Updated: July 10, 2008

Sea Bottom Habitat Border
Link to NOAA Fisheries webpage Link to NOAA webpage Link to DOC webpage