A Cape Cod company is now launching a timer that might help save dwindling populations of sea turtles from being decimated by fishing nets.

The new device is a 7-inch (18 cm) long silver cylinder capable of keeping track of how long a net has been submerged. Federal research indicates that a vast majority of entangled sea turtles will survive if they are rescued and given a chance to breath within 50 minutes.

553px Chelonia mydas in Kona Hawaii 2008 Timer saves turtles?
Green sea turtle -Chelonia mydas : Picture by Mila Zinkova

As soon as the device reaches a depth of at least two metres, it will start recording water depth every 30 seconds and it will also make note of any time-limit breaches. Since the honour system might not be enough, the timer has been built to save its data for later download by marine authorities.

Fishermen using the timer will not only help save the sea turtles; they may also be able to save themselves from more onerous regulations, such as no-fishing zones. The timer is naturally not a one-size fits all fix-all to the problem with turtles being drowned in fishing nets, but it might prove useful for certain types of nets in certain conditions.

The logger was built under a $25,000 federal contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by Onset Computer Corp., a Bourne-based supplier of data loggers for energy and environmental monitoring.