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DEC: Sea turtle saved off Orient Point

A DEC video shows the Boston Whaler patrol

A DEC video shows the Boston Whaler patrol boat approaching the tangled turtle, and ultimately, an officer setting it free. (July 9, 2013) Photo Credit: DEC Video

Tangled in a lobster buoy about 2 miles off Orient Point, a leatherback sea turtle got a lucky assist Saturday from state environmental conservation officers out on routine patrol.

The officers spotted the approximately 5-foot-long marine reptile, and, reaching over their patrol boat, "were able to grab the line, which had become ensnared around the lower torso of [the] animal and cut the rope away," the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Tuesday in a news release.

A lobster buoy is a type of float that attaches to traps so lobstermen can quickly locate and identify the traps.

A DEC video shows the Boston Whaler patrol boat approaching the tangled turtle and an officer who had just cut the ropes that, shortly after, allowed the turtle to get free.

"Saving such a large animal required a great deal of skill and the officers involved in this rescue should be commended for using their knowledge and boatmanship to rescue this magnificent animal," DEC commissioner Joe Martens said in the release.

The leatherback sea turtle, found regularly off the coast of New England and Long Island, "is the largest living turtle." It gets as long as 6 feet and can weigh up to 1,300 pounds, the DEC said. Its "disproportionally large front flippers . . . allow it to swim for long periods of time and cover great distances."

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