A Hawaiian green sea turtle that was found tangled in fishing line while swimming in Waimea Bay is moving freely again today, thanks to the quick thinking of a group of beachgoers.
Dramatic video captured with a GoPro camera on Tuesday shows the moment a group of swimmers first spot the small turtle, which they quickly realized was in distress.
"She had a hook in her mouth, fishing line wrapped around her head and neck, and really tightly around the right flipper," said Anthony Tortoriello, a beachgoer who also owns Aloha Turtle Tours.
After he spotted the injured turtle, Tortoriello says he shouted to bystanders on the shore for help.
"I yelled for someone to try and get something sharp, I didn't care what it was," he said. "I was just trying to look for someone who was local and would understand what was going on."
Tortoriello says two men – Anthony Young and Kanealii Wilcox – answered the call, though it took some time to find a sharp instrument.
Rather than struggle with the animal in the water, the men worked to bring the turtle to shore so that they could safely remove the fishing line. From start to finish, they say, the rescue operation lasted roughly 40 minutes.
"I couldn't have done what we did without them, so I was really stoked we came together," said Tortoriello.
Given the lack of proper tools, the men say they were unable to get the hook out of the turtle's mouth. But without an entangled flipper, at least she stands a chance.
"It was pretty dramatic, the turtle really was in bad shape, and I think we helped out a lot," Tortoriello said. "Me and the other two guys were pretty stoked."