PT evolves into rescue operation

| December 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sharon Nakai | Outdoor Recreation; Community Recreation Division; Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation
HALEIWA — Spc. Henry Caldera, 643 Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, holds a rescued green sea turtle, Monday. Caldera was kayaking with Sharon Nakai, an instructor with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, when they encountered the young turtle, tangled in crab nets in the Anahulu River. Their quick response helped save the turtle from being strangled underwater by the netting.

 

Jack Wiers
Pau Hana Editor
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Monday’s scheduled physical training session was already memorable for members of the 643 Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade.

For exercise, they were kayaking on the North Shore, from Haleiwa along Anahulu River, when Spc. Henry Caldera of 643 Co. helped rescue a drowning green sea turtle.

That’s when the morning kayak excursion evolved into something more significant.
“We were instructed to notice the floaters (crab line net buoys) by our instructor (Sharon Nakai),” said Caldera.

About 7:30 a.m., a crab-trap floater was bobbing aggressively and caught their attention. A young green sea turtle was hopelessly tangled in the underwater netting. When Caldera and Nakai, an Outdoor Recreation instructor for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, lifted the approximately 35-pound turtle onto the kayak, they quickly noticed the crab net was strangling the struggling and stressed creature.

“He (the turtle) took three nice gasps of air when we cut the netting away from his neck,” Caldera said. “He calmed down quickly.”

Nakai, an FMWR instructor, then immediately initiated important next-steps. Coordinators of the Outdoor Recreation program contacted the sea turtle “stranding” hotline, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  NOAA support teams immediately set up a rendezvous point in Mililani to take responsibility for the turtle, a threatened species, but also a species that has been repopulating impressively in recent years in Hawaii.

“We like to point out the sea turtles as they go out to sea during the early morning hours,” said Nakai, who has worked for Outdoor Recreation for five years. “In a 15-minute span, one time, I counted 35 turtles going out to sea.”

By 9:30 a.m. Wendy Marks, a NOAA marine turtle stranding associate, took command of the young turtle, whom officials estimated was 10 to 15 years old.

“This is fantastic,” said Marks, who quickly assumed responsibility, adding that many calls NOAA receives are for sea turtles that have already died or are in dire condition.
The quick response, in this case, is aiding a speedy recovery, NOAA officials indicated.

After further removal of crab line netting followed by treatment, the turtle was tagged and released Tuesday by members of the Marine Turtle Research Program.

“It was being strangled,” Caldera said. “We thought it was going to die.”
NOAA officials say they encourage members of the general public to contact their Oahu strandings hotline whenever a turtle in distress is spotted.

Marine Turtle Research Program
To report shoreline strandings of dead, sick or injured sea turtles, call the Oahu strandings hotline at (808) 983-5730.

Green Sea Turtles
Learn more about the green sea turtle by visiting these websites:
www.pifsc.noaa.gov/psd/mtrp;
www.turtles.org;
www.HPA.edu/turtle.html.

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Category: Community, Community Relations

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