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Beneath the Waves Encounters

True Accounts of Experiences with Acquatic Friends


Turtle Rescue

 After what happened with Trusty (see The Story of Trusty in “True Encounters”), I began carrying a titanium knife with special notches in it for cutting fishing line. Each year I find fishing line floating free, wrapped around coral or even worst, wrapped around a dolphin, turtle or ray. Its a very disturbing sight indeed. So, I began carrying this knife, a gift from a retreat guest that witnessed me diving down to pull up yards of thick fishing line by hand.

The story of Trusty had traveled around our community, along with the news of my new knife.

This day, I went out for my morning swim. As is my usual route, I swam directly to where the Green Sea Turtles are often found at rest on coral about 25 feet below the surface. I call this the “turtle cleaning station”. When the turtles are at rest here, Yellow Tangs and other small fish pull off accumulated algae that has grown on the turtles’ shells. They do a really good job as when the turtles come up to the surface for a few breaths of air, their shells are clean and quite beautiful.

As I approached the turtle cleaning station, a friend saw me and quickly swam up to me. He told me he saw a turtle on the coral below that had fishing line wrapped around his head and front right flipper. Knowing I carried a knife, he asked for my help in freeing this turtle.

I followed my friend who dove down and pointed to the turtle. What a terrible sight! This medium size green sea turtle, approximately only 2 1/2 feet long was in dire trouble. The fishing line was wrapped tightly around his neck and upper right flipper. To get a better idea of the danger the turtle was in, take your right shoulder with your arm outstretched and place it next to your ear. Now try to eat directly from a plate without using your left hand. Without our intervention, this turtle would have surely starved to death.

The Green Sea Turtles are endangered and humans are not to get closer than 15 feet from them. We have been instructed that if we see a Green Sea Turtle in trouble, we are to call the authorities and they will come and help. The authorities do not want us to do anything other than call them.

This protocol is unreasonable as by the time these authorities would get there, the turtle would have most likely moved on and perhaps become lost in the deep. I would no more have left this turtle than I would have walked away from anyone in need.

I knew I needed help so I asked my friend to dive down to the turtle and gently take the right and left sides of the turtle’s shell and pull its back into his abdominal area, then slowly swim up to the surface as the turtle would get stressed by this and would need to breathe.

I dove down with my friend and as soon as he took hold of the turtle, I got to work cutting the fishing line and tucking it into my bathing suit. The turtle struggled at first, but when he reached the surface and where he could breathe, he relaxed and stopped struggling. This turtle watched me as I cut and unwrapped the line away from him I freed his left flipper from the fishing line's tight hold. The last bit of line was attached to a hook that had pierced his lower right beak. I removed the last bit of fishing line and left the hook where it was embedded. It was a small hook and would hopefully rust out eventually. The turtle opened his mouth so I got a good look at the placement of the hook and it didn't look like it would interfere with the turtle's ability to feed.

My job done, I invited my friend to let the turtle go and for both of us to move away from him. The turtle took a shallow dive, realized he was free and okay, came back to the surface, swam over to me, about 3 inches away, and looked into my eyes. We both just floated there for a couple minutes. I slowly moved away and the turtle took 3 breaths and swam under my belly and just floated there. I guess he felt safe there. I swam a few feet away from him and dove down. I watched the turtle dive down and nestled into a bed of coral to rest.
Noble Green Sea Turtle.

When met with an emergency, I let my higher self be the impeccable guide that she is, which provided a happy ending to this story.

Copywrite: Sheoli Makara, 2003

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