Kayaking cop, lifeguard save turtle tangled in plastic bag
Free the turtleFree the turtle

Kayaking cop, lifeguard save turtle tangled in plastic bag

Off-duty police officer brings the animal ashore for care; earlier in the day, another turtle found dead, having swallowed garbage

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

An Israeli lifeguard and a kayaking police officer teamed up on Thursday morning to rescue a sea turtle that became tangled in a plastic bag off the coast of Ashdod.

The police officer, Ran Evron, was paddling in the waters around the port city when he spotted the young turtle with a plastic bag wrapped around his right flipper, lifeguard Danny “Goofy” Adler told The Times of Israel over the phone.

Evron brought the sea turtle to the lifeguard station at Arches Beach in Ashdod, where Adler cut it free.

Once loose, the young turtle began flapping its flippers in what this reporter interpreted to be pure, unadulterated joy.

“We cut it off, freed him and returned him to the water — that’s it,” Adler said.

This incident, which Adler captured on video, is just one example of many, he said. And not all of them end as positively.

Approximately half an hour before, Adler and another lifeguard found the body of a full-grown turtle that had apparently “swallowed a plastic bag” and died, Adler said.

“This is a regular thing,” according to Adler, who has been working as a lifeguard in Ashdod for 25 years.

“Over the years, the lifeguards in Ashdod’s beaches have saved many turtles — big ones, small ones, all kinds,” he said.

To Adler, 55, the message of this incident is clear: “Don’t throw trash into the sea. It’s very simple. Don’t throw trash into the sea — it’s killing animals,” Adler said.

Both loggerhead and green sea turtles populate the Mediterranean Sea, with the each of the two varieties laying their eggs along the Israeli coast.

In addition to the issue of garbage threatening the sea turtle’s habitat, development along the coast has also put the turtle population at risk, according to the ‎Israel Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

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