FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A sea turtle is once again swimming free in the ocean after Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Lifeguards untangled it from a jet ski buoy.
“You just saw the splashing happen, and the buoy was there, and then it just disappeared, so we had an idea something was tangled,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Lifeguard James Briggs.
Ocean Rescue also responded to the scene to help lead the rescue mission to ensure the animal and lifeguards made it out safely.
“A hundred fifty to 200 pound sea turtle, two to three foot seas, murky water with near zero visibility,” said Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue Lt. Mathew Parnass. “I had to worry about the safety of the lifeguards. We had a large animal attached to a rope, so we as a group had two goals in mind, free the turtle and maintain safety for these guys.”
The three men jumped into action and worked together to free the struggling turtle.
“I just went out after them,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Lifeguard Istvan Csendes. “They were the first two in the water to give him a hand because it wasn’t an easy mission just because visibility was almost zero and this turtle basically, I think, is scared from us as well, so he tried to stay under or away from us as much as possible. Every once in a while, he popped up for air.”
The turtle was restless, so the heroes decided to let it tire itself out on it’s own, so they could bring it to shore where they could see better.
“We just kind of waited it out, and finally it tired itself down,” said Parnass, “and it was very interesting when we finally got it. We cut it loose. You could see in it’s eyes this really humanizing component of nature.”
“You know we couldn’t untangle it where it was,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Lifeguard Andy Engle, “so we had to cut the rope and then bring the turtle into shore and then from there untangle the turtle, make sure everything else was safe on it and then release it.”
One rescuer said he has seen plenty of sea turtles come to shore to lay their eggs this time of year but has never been involved in a rescue mission like this.
“Now, this is a turtle nesting season in May. This giant turtle was probably, in my opinion, was getting ready for nighttime to come out and lay it’s eggs, and it’s unfortunate it got caught on this rope and buoy out there,” said Csendes.
The lifeguards said they treated this turtle’s rescue like any other mission.
“Our numerous rescues with people and the public, this was just the same you know? It’s something that needed help, that was going to drown or die so, you know you kinda still get the same feeling no matter what you’re saving,” said Engle.
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