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Rescue Crews Free Entangled 800-Pound Turtle Off NJ Coast

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Rescuers have come to the aid of a large leatherback turtle entangled in fishing gear off the southern New Jersey coast.

Someone aboard a recreational fishing boat spotted the 800-pound turtle Saturday, notified the Coast Guard and provided it with GPS coordinates for the turtle’s location.

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City took a representative from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine to a response boat operated by a crew from the Coast Guard’s Cape May station. That boat soon located the entangled turtle.

Rescuers reached down into the water and used their hands to untangle the fishing gear and free the turtle, which swam off.

“Everybody was excited,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Nick Giannaris, the crewman who physically removed the entanglement from the turtle in a news release. “It was one of my better experiences being in the Coast Guard, just seeing the animal so close and helping marine life. Everyone was pretty energized about the whole experience.”

Leatherbacks are among the largest reptiles in the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says incidental capture in fishing gear is a primary threat to them.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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