Police Officers Find Giant Turtle Tangled In Rope, Rush To Save Him

A Florida crab trap caught something a little bigger than expected on Monday - but luckily help came just in time.

Officers with the Jacksonville Sherriff's Office were boating two miles offshore when they came across a large leatherback sea turtle, whom they estimated to be 8 feet long, entangled in a crab trap.

"The trap's rope was looped around the sea turtle's neck, and the buoy was still attached to the trap," the sheriff's office wrote. "As a result, whenever the turtle tried to dive, the rope tightened around its neck."

"He's very tired," one of the officers can be heard saying in a video of the encounter. "He's very exhausted."

Knowing they couldn't leave him, the officers pulled their boat next to the turtle, got out a knife and set to work.

It took a few minutes of untangling, which the struggling turtle wasn't too happy about, but he eventually calmed down enough to let them cut the constricting rope off his neck and flipper.

"He's good, man," one of the officers says as the turtle slaps his flipper onto the water and quickly swims back home.

While leatherbacks aren't endangered as a species, they're listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as some subpopulations are in severe decline. One of their biggest threats is being caught in fishing gear intended for other species, as this individual was, which makes the rescue all the more significant.

Hopefully this big guy has many years ahead of him. If you'd like to help save more turtles like him, you can make a donation to The Leatherback Trust, which works to conserve leatherbacks and other endangered turtle species.

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