Uplifting footage captures the moment members of the US Coast Guard Cape May and Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) rescued a 200-pound loggerhead turtle that had become entangled in a line located near the Miah Maull Lighthouse in New Jersey.
“Yeah, buddy!” yell the rescuers as the turtle swims away.
The video shows the massive animal swimming alongside a ship as its rescuers tether its neck to bring it closer to the vessel. The turtle is seen swimming near the swim step when someone uses a pole to untangle a line that appeared to be wrapped around its hind flipper.
“For over 42 years, the MMSC has been rescuing sick and injured sea turtles in New Jersey, from the massive leatherback to the diminutive Kemp’s Ridley, they have all been through our hospital,” said the organization in a Facebook post. “We still do the initial rescues of these threatened and endangered animals, and now send our sea turtles to our colleagues at Sea Turtle recover for rehabilitation.”
Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are considered “vulnerable” with a consistent population decline, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Reaching a lifespan of up to 45 years, loggerheads are found in waters around the world, stretching from the Gulf of Alaska toward the tip of South America. International protections are in place to protect the species, which is largely impacted by human development and disturbance, as well as overfishing, invasive species, and pollution.
“Loggerhead turtles are named for their large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins,” writes the World Wildlife Fund. “They are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles. Bycatch, the accidental capture of marine animals in fishing gear, is a serious problem for loggerhead turtles because they frequently come in contact with fisheries.”
Loggerheads play an important ecological function in the marine environment, crushing up hard-shell prey with their namesake jaw and redepositing vital nutrients on the seafloor in the form of poop. The turtles also transport colonies of small plants and animals around the world on their shells – as many as 150,000 individual animals have been recorded on a single loggerhead.