LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens — “How the [expletive] did a sea turtle get into the East River!?”
It was the question on the minds of several onlookers late Monday, after a fisherman reeled in a massive 40-pound sea turtle from the waters off Long Island City in Queens, just outside the Costco parking lot on Vernon Boulevard.
“You see a lot [in the East River] but a turtle, no.” witness Chris Carlson told PIX11 News. “That’s a first.”
Carlson who captured the surprise catch on cell phone video, was just as bewildered by the creature as many.
“The biggest question was – do you call the EPA or what do you do?” he said. “You know it’s the weirdest freaking thing.”
What the group did do was carefully unlatch the fishing hook from the turtle’s mouth, safely releasing it back into the water. Some came to the conclusion that it was simply lost.
“It was a really, really big turtle,” recounted Mushraful Alam, a seasoned fisherman who spends most days along this pier in Long Island City.
He was one of the many on hand as the turtle was reeled in Monday night.
The biggest catch he’s ever made, he said, was a 29-inch striped bass, so a turtle in these waters just doesn’t make sense.
“This is such an unusual thing – I’ve never seen somebody catch a turtle like this,” he said.
According to experts, a plausible reason why this rare catch along the East River occurred had something to do with another rare phenomenon — Monday's solar eclipse.
Studies have linked lunar activity to high and low tide cycles, which directly impacts the activity of sea creatures like fish and crab.
Although it is a theory — the sea turtle may have drifted into the East River after following an unusual large amount of sea life, which could mean an extra meal or three.
Monday’s sea turtle surprise catch has not been seen since.