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Beachgoer shares concerning video after saving massive sea turtle entangled in web of ocean plastic: 'Such an amazing act of kindness'

"Job well done."

"Job well done."

Photo Credit: Instagram

Visitors to a beach in Trinidad and Tobago were dismayed to see a majestic leatherback sea turtle who was being slowly choked to death by old fishing nets wound tightly around her neck. Working quickly, the group was able to cut the nets away, leaving the turtle free to swim back to sea.

A video of the rescue posted on Instagram by user Stephen Velaidam (@stephensiv19) shows the volunteers carefully sawing away at the thick ropes, which had been wrapped around the turtle's neck for so long they had begun to accumulate seaweed and barnacle growth.

"The global population [of leatherbacks] has declined 40 percent over the past three generations," Valaidam wrote in the caption. "Any leatherback that survives to adulthood has overcome enormous odds. … leatherback populations are affected by loss of nesting sites, plastic ingestion, egg poaching, and commercial fisheries."

Commenters were glad to see the rescue, especially given the vulnerability of the species. "Job well done, thank you," one wrote.

"Such an amazing act of kindness," another agreed.

Unfortunately, entanglement in marine debris — particularly fishing lines and nets — is far from the only danger threatening these ancient animals. As Velaidam's caption referenced, numerous human-caused threats have led six of the seven sea turtle species in the world to be listed as endangered.

Another issue is that both adult females and newly hatched sea turtles use moonlight to guide their way to the safety of the ocean. This beach crossing is already perilous as predators wait to swoop in and pick off the newborns, and unfortunately, artificial lighting and light pollution have been shown to disorient them and lead them in the wrong direction.

"It's quite unfortunate that these sort of things happen but kudos to you on helping her," one person wrote in response to the video. "Let's continue to preserve our endangered species."

"I feel helpless, I wish I could do more," another lamented. 

Fortunately, there are ways to help. From volunteering time or money with a marine conservation group like 4ocean or the Ocean Conservancy, there are many organizations working hard to make the oceans safer for creatures like the leatherback sea turtle.

Also, it never hurts to work to reduce one's own plastic footprint — try switching to powdered laundry detergent or using your own to-go containers at restaurants.

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