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Saturday 16 November 2019

Fishing crew in dramatic rescue of large turtle

The huge leatherback sea turtle found itself tangled up in a buoy line
The huge leatherback sea turtle found itself tangled up in a buoy line

Pádraig Byrne

A fishing crew working off the Wexford coast made a surprising discovery when they found a massive, ultra-rare sea turtle tangled up in one of their buoy lines.

The crew of the Mfv MEL, Skipper Anthony Berry, his partner Mel Birchall and brother Eddie Berry, were about three miles off the coast of Curracloe when they made the discovery and the whole incident was captured on video by Mel.

'The video and the pictures actually don't do it justice,' she said. 'He was huge. It must've been about six foot. He didn't struggle at all until we went to tow the buoy line in. Anthony reckons it must've been tired, because it was probably there for about four hours.'

The theory is that the rare leatherback sea turtle possibly got itself stuck while feeding on jellyfish off the Wexford coast. A fisherwoman herself for over ten years, Mel says she's never come across anything like this before. 'There was one time we saw a humpback whale in the distance a few years back, but I've never seen anything like this,' she said. 'It's certainly one of the strangest things I've seen out here anyway.'

After a bit of manoeuvring from the crew and the turtle itself, the impressive creature managed to swim away unscathed. The leatherback turtle can weigh up to 920kg and is unique among sea turtles for having a rubbery carapace instead of a hard shell and it is recognised as the largest living sea turtle in the world.

Wexford People

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