Local Fisherman and Turtle Hero
Sinkey Howell Boone was born in Tattnall County, Georgia on January 24, 1937. Sinkey grew up to join the family business of fishing in coastalGeorgia. During the early years of his career, he began to realize the importance of reducing the amount of by-catch, or non-target species, in his nets. More importantly, he understood this would be an important step in keeping sea turtles from becoming entrapped within the shrimp-trawling net.
To accomplish this goal, Sinkey set to work on the “Georgia Jumper” in the late 1960’s. Although this one-of-a-kind design was originally not required by law, Sinkey continued to promote its use throughout the shrimping community. His concern for sea turtles was always a driving force behind this strong endorsement of the Turtle Excluder Device (T.E.D.) In 1987, Sinkey’s dream continued to spread as the United States required all shrimp-trawling boats to equip their nets with T.E.D.’s.
Two years later, the shrimp-turtle law went into effect requiring all countries importing shrimp to the United States to certify the shrimp were harvested by vessels outfitted with T.E.D.’s. During the next two decades, Sinkey continued to promote the use of the T.E.D. worldwide to ensure the safety of sea turtles across the globe. In the early 2000’s, he set to work on a new and improved design called the “Georgia Jumper Big Boy.” This version was specially designed to easily exclude the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle and other large ocean-dwelling creatures from shrimp nets. Although Sinkey passed from this life on September 1, 2010, he will always be remembered as an inventor, conservationist, creator of the T.E.D., and a legend within the shrimp-fishing and sea turtle communities. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center has created an exhibit in his honor to remember this sea turtle hero.