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‘Turtle team’ helps rescue hooked creature

March 28, 2013
The Maui Weekly

The Maui News - A self-described "turtle team" captured a turtle at sea--with the guidance of state officials--and removed a large fishing hook from the animal's fin off Po'olenalena Beach in Makena recently.

For months, there were reports of a female turtle with a fishing hook in her left front fin, said Valerie Lane Simonsen, a member of the 12-member turtle team. She ended up bringing the plight of the turtle to state officials' attention on March 9 after seeing the turtle while swimming.

Cory Ho'opi'iaina, an experienced diver, swam into the ocean with a team of snorkelers and free divers, and after several failed attempts, Ho'opi'iaina ended up giving the turtle a bear hug and bringing it ashore, where the hook was removed.

The turtle quickly moved toward the waves and disappeared into the surf.

The members of the turtle team were Simonsen, Ho'opi'iaina, John Hood, Vi English, Barbara Terrill Gach, Michael Reed Gach, Kelly Livingston, Patricia Ho'opi'iaina Shaw, Diane Angela Fong, Mark Shaw, Gordon Poulson and Garth MacFarlin.

Each turtle is handled on a case-by-case basis, said State Aquatic Biologist Skippy Hau.

For those coming across the injured turtles, contact Hau at 243-5294 or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Turtle Research Program on O'ahu at (808) 983-5730.

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