Coast Guard saves 6-foot Leatherback sea turtle trapped in fishing line off Maine coast

A small-boat crew deployed from the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell untangles a 6-foot long Leatherback turtle from fishing line 15 miles off Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Sept. 20, 2015. After cutting the line, the crew watched as the turtle swam away to the open sea. U.S. Coast Guard photo

A small-boat crew deployed from the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell untangles a 6-foot long Leatherback turtle from fishing line 15 miles off Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Sept. 20, 2015.  U.S. Coast Guard photo

BOSTON — The Coast Guard rescued a Leatherback sea turtle entangled in fishing gear Sunday approximately 15 miles south of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

A good Samaritan notified the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell crew of the turtle’s distress.

Following notification, lookouts were posted along the Campbell as it neared the 6-foot turtle’s last known position. Once located, a small-boat with five crewmembers aboard was deployed from the Campbell to rescue the turtle.

A rescue-boat crewmember, Ensign Jaime Chicoine, immediately identified the sea turtle as a Leatherback, known as the largest of all living sea turtles and a protected endangered species.

Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Travis, the small boat’s coxswain, quickly tied the rescue boat off to a fishing buoy, allowing Travis to turn off the engine, reducing the risk of the propeller injuring the Leatherback during the rescue process.

“The crew attempted to gain control of the Leatherback, which proved to be no easy task as the frightened turtle frantically fought back, flipping through the water,” said Ensign Robert Chamberlain, a crewmember aboard the Campbell.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dakota Curran, another crewmember aboard the rescue boat, held the line and float that were wrapped around the right flipper of the turtle and carefully pulled the sea turtle alongside the small boat.

Chicoine got into position where she could sever the line without cutting the turtle or any crewmembers in the process.

After cutting the line, Campbell’s crew watched as the turtle swam away to the open sea. The boat crew was able to splice the cut line to salvage the fishing gear before leaving the scene.

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