Coast Guard Frees Entangled Sea Turtle [VIDEO & PHOTOS]

Rescuers untwisted fishing line from around a large sea turtle off of Montauk on Wednesday.

Sea turtles have nine lives too, or so it seems. Thanks to the quick-thinking of a bunch of seamen off the coast of Montauk, a sea turtle was saved from death by strangulation on Wednesday.

Sailboaters alerted the Coast Guard that one of the endangered species was wrapped up in fishing gear about two or three miles off the coast of at about 1:30 p.m.

officers were on their way to do some training when the call came in. They turned around the 47-foot motor lifeboat and headed around Montauk Point into the Atlantic Ocean.

Arriving at about 2 p.m., they found a large sea turtle on the water's surface. It's neck and front fins were wrapped in line and two buoys attached to a lobster trap, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Josh Garsik, of Port Jefferson, who was the coxswain.

The sea turtle was still managing to swim, at about 2 to 3 knots, but the buoys were preventing it from going deeper into the ocean, he said.

Garsik said they corraled the massive sea turtle — which was estimated to be 6 1/2 feet long and 4 feet wide. "We pulled him nice and gently to our boat," using the line, Garsik said.

They contacted the , and were given the greenlight to cut the line that was attached to the trap.

Hovering over the side of the boat, they went to work on carefully unraveling the line as the turtle thrashed about in the water. Others helped direct the untangling effort from the tower above.

A half-hour later, the sea turtle was free. "He was off and happy," Garsik said. "We helped the little guy." On a video taken from the tower, cheers could be heard as the turtle swam off completely free of the gear.

"It was a little difficult to get it all worked out," Garsik said, explaining that it was pulled around its neck pretty tightly. "We didn't want to strangle him and its hard to judge," he said.

Those helping to free the sea turtle were Firemen Oscar Kramp, of Miami, Firemen Robert Brown, of East Islip, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katie Sand, of Vermont, Petty Officer 2nd Class Izzy Velasquez, of Los Angeles, and Crew Seamen William Hanna, of Setauket. 

Garsik had once responded to watch a sea turtle until rescuers arrived in Maine, but had never dealt with a sea turtle hands-on. "Normally, you don't see them that close to the shore. Normally, you don't see them on the surface much," he said.

Dyanna July 12, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Way to go guys <3
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Josh Garsik wrote via East Hampton Patch Facebook, "Thanks for the write up. It was all in a days work."
Bill Graham July 12, 2012 at 09:06 AM
Now that's a great story!!! DISPOSE OF YOUR FISHING LINE PROPERLY!!!
Martha Nassauer July 12, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Yes...We had the same great feeling helping the stranded sick baby seal pup eventually last year. It sadly was more difficult initially as we could not get a local paper here in Wainscott to assist us in making this poor baby's needs more voiced by we, the community caregivers,) so it suffered for over a day on the lonely beach. If it ever happens again I will look for Taylor, as she seems to care about these issues!
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Call/email any time!
Deborah Klughers July 12, 2012 at 02:49 PM
That was a Leatherback- the largest of all sea turtles- and perhaps the largest reptile on Earth! They are endangered throughout their range - which is HUGE! They have been sighted as far north as Alaska and south to the Cape of Good Hope! They eat jellyfish, squid and other soft stuff.... a gentle giant for sure! They are seen in our waters- but all too often as a victim of a boat strike or entanglement in marine debris! East Hampton does have a fishing line recycling program, and we also participate in the "Fishing for Energy" partnership! http://easthampton.patch.com/blog_posts/fishing-for-energy-to-dock-in-montauk Its up to us to reduce and remove threats to marine life as much as we can!
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Thanks for the info, Debbie! Is it possible that the sea turtle got wrapped up in a trap that was in use and not that it was waste?
Gail Simons July 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
YAY! Love some great news! Wish those fishing lines weren't there in the first place, though. Responsibility and accountability!!!
Gail Simons July 12, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Congratulations and kudos to the Coast Guard personell involved! Thank you!
Deborah Klughers July 12, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Anything is possible out there! Some sea turltes, like the Loggerhead actuallly "raid" fishing traps and sometimes get stuck as well. So SO glad they found this one in time... I saw a decapitated sea turtle with a rope around the "neck" and a pot dangling about 6 feet below it.....it must have suffered for a long time- the pictures I took are very sad... I've also seen 2 Leatherbacks off the point- basking at the surface! They are here... so please keep an eye out while boating! Also, don't forget sea turtles get cold stunned if they don't head south when our waters cool.... (The Leatherbacks don't get cold stunned here, but the Greens, Kepms Ridley and Loggerhead do...) The Riverhead Foundation helps cold stunned sea turtles- so keep their number handy-631.369.9829.Ive uploaded a sea turtle ID chart FYI.
tim July 12, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Go CG, what a great days work.
donna rubino July 12, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Kudos to these wonderful men - shame shame on the fisherman for causing these problems and not caring about the environment and wilflife!!! Disgraceful - Coast Guard, do not contact Riverhead for help with any stranded marine life, they do not know what they are doing, i.e. the poor whale that suffered for days and died in East Hampton, I contacted many people across the country who knew what to do and how to help the whale but unfortunately they were too far away to assist - I notified Riverhead etc. group and told them what i found out but they did nothing to save this poor animal - and the cops kept people away from pushing the whale out to sea which would have saved its life!!!!!!!!
Dana Kalbacher July 12, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Great job Coast Guard! What a lucky turtle !!
Patrice Dalton July 12, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Love it! Great work US Coast Guard! Thank you.
gigi Dire July 13, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Props to Captain & Crew of S/V Summer Wind and to Coast Guard for timely response- Well done everyone.
Phoca Groenlandica July 13, 2012 at 01:30 AM
You are so wrong in your comments about the Riverhead Foundation. the are a tremendous asset not only to the East End, but to all of New York. they are the only hope these animals have and they have done many of these disentanglements over the years as well as countless other rescues of marine life.
Phoca Groenlandica July 13, 2012 at 01:32 AM
What are you talking about? Local papers do not rescue seals and the general public should not be acting as "caregivers" they should be reporting the animal to the proper authorities,.
Phoca Groenlandica July 13, 2012 at 01:59 AM
No doubt the USCG did a great job, but you east enders should be ashamed of the way you treat the Riverhead Foundation. Do a search on this site for the Riverhead Foundation and see all the great stories and no one ever responds or shows any appreciation. There are more "kudos" here in this one story a=than all the other marine life rescue stories put together on this Patch. Very sad.
gigi Dire July 13, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Phoca, there is no Kudos contest going on here. in fact, most people saw this article because friends were involved in the rescue, shared the link, etc... i've never read this before and only discovered it because my friend's boat was the one that discovered the turtle. I'm sure the Riverhead Foundation does an amazing job, and hopefully does so out of passion for the animals and not for internet validation. Perhaps more people just re-posted this article for friends & family to see. I don't see anyone here treading the Riverhead Foundation badly. I don't see why anyone should be ashamed of anything.
Phoca Groenlandica July 13, 2012 at 02:29 AM
did you read Donna Rubino's comments? I'm sure they couldn't care less about less about internet postings like this, but when I see ignorance, I point it out. The people at the Riverhead Foundation and other animal rescue groups around the Island, like the Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton bays struggle everyday to make ends meet and to always be there for our wild animals. Sadly they never get the recognition they deserve or the funds they need.
gigi Dire July 13, 2012 at 02:39 AM
i ignored what she wrote because she first started bashing fishermen for not caring about wildlife- this is not always the case. sadly, the turtle had clearly snagged a fouled lobster pot, and fishermen do not seem to be the culprits here. most people are not going to pay attention to that kind of negativity.
Ralebird July 13, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Calm down people, it looks like you're all looking to do the right thing. The whale stranding was indeed a disaster, at least partially because the experienced people from Riverhead were out of state. They made decisions based on information they received from people who didn't have the expertise to properly assess the situation. If there ever was an examination of what went wrong it wasn't made public as it should have been to help prevent the same type of thing from happening in the future. Certainly gathering local forces to at least attempt to get the whale off the beach would have been preferable to allowing it to flounder in the surf for days before the euthanasia attempts that would have been comical if they weren't so sad.
donna rubino July 13, 2012 at 01:19 PM
please check out the beached whale story about a year ago in east hampton and read how riverhead foundation did not do the right thing with the baby beached whale, they left it to suffer and die on the beach when they could have pushed it back out to sea - i spoke with a group in california who rescues whales all the time and they were outraged over the Riverhead foundations lack of appropriate action in this case - Riverhead made the lame excuse that it must be sick and it will only beach itself again, meanwhile autopsy revealed no injuries no illnesses!!! I sure hope to God they learned from this and will do the right thing next time!!!
Kate Walter July 14, 2012 at 11:27 AM
i think the the coat guard did great. My father did not go because he is the Senior Chief at Coast Guard station Montauk. Great Job to all the crew members
Greg Martinez July 15, 2012 at 04:21 AM
So now there is a move to abolish fisherman because one turtle gets tangled in a fishing line. People, it is turtle. People eat turtles. I have no problem with the CG untangling it. That is good training for them. Not to spend their careers on saving turtles, but their real job of saving human beings. Personally, I think the feds should have waived the endangered species non-sense in this case and let the coast guardsmen involved be rewarded with some super turtle soup.
TAB July 16, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Thanks for the I.d. My kids and I were thinking it was a Leatherback. I know they have T.E.D.'s for commercial fishing nets. Isn't there anything we can do with small local fishing lines?


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