Leatherback Sea Turtle Tangled Up In Kelp Freed Off California Coast

The estimated 700-pound turtle was spotted swimming with a huge kelp strand wrapped around a front flipper and its neck.

Written by
The Leatherback Sea Turtle was entangled in kelp, hindering its swimming capabilities and slowing it down.
John Virata

Deckhand Jason Kunewa was working on the “San Mateo,” a whale watching boat 15 miles off the coast of Dana Point, California, when he saw what he thought was a big kelp paddy in the distance. Then it started to move, and Kunewa became unsure what it was.

As the creature swam closer to the boat, he recognized it was a Leatherback Sea Turtle swimming with a huge strand of kelp wrapped around its left flipper and neck, the Orange County Register reports.
 

A large kelp strand was definitely a drag on this Leatherback Sea Turtle's swimming capabilities.

A large kelp strand was definitely a drag on this Leatherback Sea Turtle’s swimming capabilities. Via DanaWharf.com/YouTube

The kelp was definitely a drag on its swimming capabilities, so Kunewa grabbed a filet knife and his GoPro, jumped in the ocean and swam toward the turtle. Immediately Kunewa noticed the massiveness of the reptile, which he estimated at around 700 pounds with a body that was three times his size.

“I had adrenaline going through my body, but I was mostly concerned about getting that thing off without hurting myself or the turtle,” the 39-year-old told the Register.
 

Jason Kunewa sprang to action with a filet knife and with a single stroke, freed the sea turtle from the kelp. Via DanaWharf.com/YouTube

Jason Kunewa sprang to action with a filet knife and with a single stroke, freed the sea turtle from the kelp. Via DanaWharf.com/YouTube

Kunewa was able to grab the kelp and with a quick upward motion, cut the strand that managed to slow the turtle down.

The entire event lasted about 15 seconds, and as the turtle became free of the entanglement, it began to swim faster, Kunewa said.
 

Now free, the Leatherback Sea Turtle swam fast and away. Via DanaWharf.com/YouTube

Now free, the Leatherback Sea Turtle swam fast and away. Via DanaWharf.com/YouTube

“It was relieved, you could tell,” he said. “It started swimming faster.”

While Kunewa’s action is commendable, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advises that anyone who sees a sea turtle in trouble to call the Disentanglement Network at 1-866-755-NOAA (6622). Because of the size of sea turtles and the potential for injury to the turtle and the human, NOAA recommends that disentanglements be left to the experts.

Article Categories:
Trending

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *