Live

Watch CBSN Live

Struggling sea turtle freed with help from sportfishing crewman

DANA POINT, Calif. --A giant sea turtle is swimming freely again after being rescued off Dana Point in California, thanks to a sportfishing crewman who jumped in the water to help,CBS Los Angeles reported.

Dana Wharf Sportfishing crewman Jason Kunewa said he and Capt. Bo Daniel were about 15 miles offshore looking for false killer whales Sunday when they spotted a 700-pound leatherback sea turtle tangled in kelp.

"I knew I had to do it. I didn't know what to expect," he said.

Without giving it a second thought, a wetsuit or a plan, Kunewa immediately grabbed a knife and jumped into the water.

He said the kelp wrapped around the sea creature's body. He cut quickly, but carefully, trying desperately to avoid slicing the turtle's fins or neck.

"I got him cut off as much as possible. It looked pretty free and swims pretty fast away from me after that," he said.

The native Hawaiian says his aunt and grandmother on the Big Island often saved sea turtles, which are considered sacred animals in their family.

fisherman.jpg
Dana Wharf Sportfishing crewman Jason Kunewa. CBS Los Angeles

This was Kunewa's first rescue. In Hawaiian tradition, Kunewa's family symbol is the sea turtle.

Seven years ago, he had it tattooed on his arm.

"It's my aumakua. Anytime you can help them out when they need help," he siad. "I kind of felt like it knew I was there to help him."

Aumakua is a family god in Hawaiian mythology.

View CBS News In