2016-08-18 / Community

Rare catch

Sea turtle is named Joe, after Agoura fisherman who caught it
By Sylvie Belmond


SAVED!—Joe is a 27-pound green sea turtle whose wide girth is measured against human hands in the photo at top. Above, Joe’s precarious position before being saved. The turtle is now being cared for at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. SAVED!—Joe is a 27-pound green sea turtle whose wide girth is measured against human hands in the photo at top. Above, Joe’s precarious position before being saved. The turtle is now being cared for at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Agoura Hills resident Joe Duley didn’t expect to find a large green sea turtle at the end of the line when he was fishing along Pacific Coast Highway near Topanga Canyon in Malibu on Aug. 9.

An avid fisherman, Duley often catches fresh halibut and sea bass, which he takes home for dinner. But last week, a large sea turtle took his squid bait.

“At first I didn’t know what it was. It was so heavy,” said Duley, who then tried to hoist the 27-pound creature out of the water and up toward him so he could release it.

But he found the task difficult because the large creature was 30 feet below and waves were hitting the rocky shoreline.


Photos courtesy of Joe Duley Photos courtesy of Joe Duley Unsure what to do, Duley called the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas for help.

Someone arrived within 15 minutes to help him get the sea turtle up and take the hook out of its mouth, Duley said.

Jeff Hall, a marine animal biologist with the local animal rescue center, said this was the first time he was called to help with a green sea turtle.

“We don’t see them around here,” said Hall, who has worked with the California Wildlife Center for about 13 years.

The species typically lives in tropical and subtropical waters south of San Diego and around Hawaii. But the turtles have also been seen near power plants along the California coastline, where the water is warmer. Higher water temperatures in the local Pacific could explain why they are venturing farther north.

Aside from some minor scrapes and the hook in its mouth, the sea turtle caught last week was in good condition.

Since it is a juvenile, biologists could not determine the turtle’s gender.

It was brought to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach so it could be rehabilitated and then released.

Duley said a biologist from the aquarium called him the day after his catch to give him an update about the turtle.

“They X-rayed it and found it has several hooks in its stomach. He is a repeat offender. They will keep it for two weeks and release him in San Diego,” Duley said.

The sea turtle will be tagged, and it was named Joe after the man who found it.

If the additional hooks in its stomach are not expelled naturally, they will be removed surgically before it’s freed.

Return to top