According to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, more sea turtles have already died from boat strikes this year than in all of 2019, with 23 strikes in 2020 so far versus 18 last year. Social distancing protocols may be the culprit.
Of the 23 strikes, 18 have occurred since April, when many people, including many new boaters, took to the water to practice social distancing in the midst of the pandemic. Mote scientists also note that 50 percent of all sea turtle stranding cases this year have been from boat strikes, versus only 25 percent last year.
Mote scientists have only been able to successfully rehabilitate one turtle involved in a boat accident since 2019, as the injuries are usually very severe. To help prevent more strikes, boaters are urged to abide by slow wake zones, have a spotter watch for marine wildlife, and use polarized lenses to help detect shapes in the water. If you encounter an injured animal, do not try to help it yourself. Instead, call your local marine rescue organization.