Last weekend, Nate and I were surfing Shipwrecks with a visiting Aussie when we saw a large fishing net drifting towards the rocks. We focused on it and a lone flipper waved. We waited a moment, and it waved again.
"Turtle!" announced the Aussie.
"Let's rescue it!" I said, starting to paddle towards the rocks and hoping that a giant set wasn't just beyond the horizon and about to smash me to pieces.
The sea turtle was impossibly tangled, and while the men slowly paddled against the current to get it to the beach, I ran back to the campsite to get our knife so that we could cut it free. A kilometer later, I was back and we got started.
The turtle was freaked out to be pulled out of the water, but the Aussie kept it calm by sitting next to it and rubbing its neck, humming softly to console it. Nate started cutting the net, which was chaffing tight around the turtle's neck and flippers, right to the muscle in some places. It must've been frighteningly uncomfortable, but the turtle didn't try to bite us like I expected. Instead, it stayed pretty calm as we cut it free.
It only took a second for the turtle, once released from the 20 kg net it had been lugging along, to lumber itself towards the water and disappear. I wanted to take more photos, but got kind of caught up in the moment.
"We saved a turtle! That's great karma. I feel fantastic," said the Aussie, ever enthusiastic.
I think we just started our turtle conservation project. More details on what it will look like when we talk to our new Project Leaders next week.