Saved By The Snippers
31 December 2014 | Misool, Indonesia
Even with bolt cutters, it was not easy breaking through the thick stainless steel hook.
It is always better hunting at the zoo and in certain parts of Indonesia, some locals will attest the fishing is far better in the marine preserve, even under the noses of the park rangers.
Throughout the Raja Ampat area of Indonesia, there are villagers living just outside of marine park boundaries. Fewer still are indigenous people living on islands surrounded by park waters. They are allowed to catch fish on a subsistence level from designated areas. But if no one is looking, which is most of the time, some lunkers can be hauled for dinner from the protected marine environment. But turtles are on the do not take list no matter what side the border the fisherman drops his hook.
The sun was dropping as Rebecca and I were zipping along in our high speed dinghy skirting the labyrinth of vertical cliff islets on our way back to Brick House. We had a good day of snorkeling on amazing prolific reefs in an area so remote, there were no other tourists or long range cruising boats. But around the corner, somewhere, there was a small village of locals. As we visually scouted the calm water ahead of us, there was an unusual splash close to a rock cliff. At first we thought, manta ray wings. It turned out not to be wings but the flippers of a turtle. We had discovered an illegal fishing line on the south side of P.Balbulol island which is in a park area of Indonesia. A thick blue polypropylene line was tied to a rock face of an island then to a small outcropping seaward. Attached to that line were two thinner, yet strong monofilament fishing lines. Each of those lines held a shiny stainless steel hook and steel leader. One hook was free of bait but the other had this flapping turtle attached. We were able to manage the turtle into our dinghy then bend the wire leader back and forth enough times till it broke. Back at Brick House, even with bolt cutters, it was difficult to cut through the hook so it could be slipped out of the turtles' mouth. From inside the mouth, the turtle was very lucky the hook came out just below his eye causing no apparent damage to the turtle's sight. We only hope the wound does not become infected.
Of course the person who finds his fishing lines empty, and especially one without its hook, will wonder what in the world happened. He would be very disappointed to know that he almost had turtle steak for dinner.
All this information was passed onto the marine patrol so they can follow up on the discovery.
You have to scroll down to see the picture of the release.