|A Jacksonville Sheriff's Deputy saves a leatherback sea turtle entangled in a crab trap. Credit: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office|
JACKSONVILLE, Florida - Two off-duty Florida sheriff's deputies saved a nine-foot leatherback sea turtle two miles off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on Monday.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Lieutenant Steve Mullen and Officer Brad Smith observed the sea turtle in distress because it had had become 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.
Each time the sea turtle tried to dive, the rope tightened around its neck. As the video shows, Mullen was able to disentangle the distressed turtle from the crab trap while keeping the turtle in the water.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the main threat that leatherback sea turtles face while at sea is entanglement in fishing gear such as long-lines, mono-filament fishing line, nets, and crab trap lines. When entangled in marine debris, leatherback sea turtles cannot escape and usually drown.
The leatherback is the largest turtle and one of the largest living reptiles in the world. The sesea turtles typically weigh between 500 and 1,500 pounds.
The leatherback sea turtle gets its name from its soft shell. It is the only sea turtle that doesn't have a hard bony shell. Instead, a leatherback's top shell consists of leathery, oil-saturated connective tissue overlaying loosely interlocking dermal bones.
Video credit: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office