There was an unusual rescue for Council Lifeguards on the weekend – a giant endangered turtle off Dee Why Beach.

On Sunday afternoon Council Lifeguards were called to rescue an exhausted endangered leatherback turtle, struggling to stay alive a kilometre off Sydney’s Dee Why Beach.

ORCA was alerted to an entangled marine creature by a member of the public from Dee Why Point about 1.30pm. ORCA involved Council lifeguards and NPWS by phone, launched an investigative drone and after confirming it was a distressed and entangled 2m leatherback turtle, lifeguards agreed to assist with the rescue.  

Northern Beaches Council on duty lifeguards David Hooper and Tiaan Cronje, were able to get to the turtle quickly via jet ski.

Mr Hooper said they had to work quickly as they could see the nets cutting into its fins and neck and the turtle risked drowning without urgent assistance.

“When you see such an incredible animal so distressed – it pulls on your heart strings,” Mr Hooper said.

“As soon as we got our there it was apparent it was going to require the two of us so we moored the jetski, put on the fins, mask and snorkel that all our jetskis are equipped with, and positioned ourselves on each side of the animal.

“We began to slowly cut the netting – being very mindful of the safety of both the turtle and ourselves as well.

“The turtle showed no signs of aggression – it could feel us loosening the nets and each time we got through a section it struggled again to free itself.

“We wanted to be sure it didn’t go without us having removed every part of the netting and end up in a worse situation. We also needed to make sure it was outside the net so it didn’t just swim back into it again.

“We could tell the poor thing was exhausted and after 20mins or more, we were also tiring.

“We freed the neck and fins first and then eventually were able to remove the rest but the turtle remained too heavy to get off the net by itself.”

In the end they both got behind the turtle and were able to give one large push to finally free it into the open ocean.

“It was amazing, exhilarating,” Mr Hooper said.

“To have been able to save this animal which we were told could be up to 100 years old was really the best feeling.”

The Sunday rescue followed a similar one off Manly Beach on Saturday by the NPWS, supported by lifeguards on jet ski.

Tiaan Cronje was also involved in a dramatic human rescue just over a month ago, saving the life of a young woman washed off rocks by a 10m swell near Freshwater rock pool.

Mayor Sue Heins congratulated all involved for their quick and professional action to save the endangered turtle.

“Another spectacular rescue by our incredible lifeguards!” Ms Heins said.

“It’s great to see all agencies working together across the weekend to get the best outcomes for our community and our precious sealife.

“A huge congratulations to all involved and particularly to Tiaan and David on Sunday for saving the life of this incredible turtle. When a species is endangered every animal is so important and I hope this one can continue to live out its full life as a result of this rescue.”

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