Reef divers save sea turtle

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Good Samaritans at sea have given new life to an endangered green sea turtle.

The turtle was all but dead off Boynton Beach Inlet when reef divers came to the rescue for the wounded marine animal.

Now the turtle is recovering at a sea turtle rehab facility in Juno Beach. Had the divers not come along when they did, the sea turtle could have been a shark's next meal or starved to death.

Ed Tichenor and Terry St. Jean were reef diving about one mile southeast of the Boynton Beach Inlet when St. Jean spotted something at the bottom of the water.

"I yelled 'Ed, Ed come over here,' " she says.

The couple has made it their passion to protect local reefs after founding an organization called "Reef Rescue."

Wednesday they made a rescue of a different kind. Tichenor and St. Jean were 60 feet deep when they spotted the juvenile sea turtle motionless in the water.

"Usually as soon as they see you they take off, but this one didn't move," says St. Jean. "He was obviously in a lot of pain. He was distressed."

The sea turtle was alive, but with several injuries.

"Somebody hooked him and either the line broke and he got away, or they cut him loose which is wrong to do because it leaves the hook in the turtle's mouth," says Tichenor.

"He had triple hooks hanging in his mouth, into his shoulder, his head was pulled sideways so he couldn't eat," St. Jean recalls.

Tichenor gently picked up the 20-pound sea turtle and swam back to the boat hoping to get it some help before it was too late.

The sea turtle calmly rode back to shore with his new heroes and was taken to a marine rehab facility to recover.

"He was fair game for a shark or something like that," says Tichenor.

"In our opinion, he would have probably died if it weren't for a shark it would have been starving," says St. Jean. "We tell everyone don't touch the wildlife, don't touch the reef, but there's certain times you have to do the Good Samaritan thing."

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