US Coast Guard to the Rescue of a Turtle off New Jersey

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Most of the attention the U.S. Coast Guard gets is for its missions of bravery, such as the daring rescues of seafarers in distress, or its missions such as drug interdictions and seizures. This mission for the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay will clearly be remembered as one of the more unique assignments for the Coasties.

Imagine the surprise for the watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay command center when they received a call from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC). The center was reporting that a turtle was entangled in a fishing trap line approximately 11 miles southeast of Cape May, New Jersey. The center needed the help of the U.S. Coast Guard to save the endangered animal.

Command center watchstanders directed the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater, an 87-foot patrol boat, to the scene and to locate and provide assistance to the turtle. Arriving on scene the Coast Guard crew was coordinating its rescue efforts with the MMSC when they spotted sharks encircling the turtle.

Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater — US Coast Guard photo by Fireman Jason Breckner


The crew of the Shearwater launched a team aboard the ship’s small boat, who began to circle the ailing turtle until the sharks dispersed. Crewmembers then cautiously approached the turtle and used tools to cut it free.

“This was the proudest day I’ve had on this cutter,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Anthony Martinez, Officer in Charge of the Shearwater. “Everybody on the crew rallied around and worked together, and we were able to save that turtle.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Mason Sanders and Petty Officer 2nd Class Carliene Lyon worked to free a sea turtle tangled in a fishing trap line while Fireman Jason Breckner assisted.

The uninjured turtle went on its way while the Coasties will have a story to tell for years to come.


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