HMAS Glenelg saves sea turtles

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Jake Leonard (author), ABCIS Declan Burt (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Glenelg (P96)

(From L to R) Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Chay Westcott, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Sarah Anderson and Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Simone Van Dam work to free a turtle caught in a drifting net (photo: ABCIS Declan Burt)
(From L to R) Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Chay Westcott, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Sarah Anderson and Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Simone Van Dam work to free a turtle caught in a drifting net

A quiet watch was the expectation for Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate James Cole in patrol boat HMAS Glenelg, but what he got was a lesson in ocean rescue for some entangled wildlife.

“I stepped on to the bridge wing to get some fresh air and as I did, I noticed a net floating past,” he said.

“As I looked closer, I saw that it was moving – there were three large sea turtles caught in the net,” Leading Seaman Cole said.

A call was quickly made to Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Gary List, who decided to stop the boat and attempt to rescue the turtles.

Glenelg
 launched one of her rigid hull inflatable boats with three sailors on board.

“We pulled the boat up next to the net and grabbed a hold of it, and set to work cutting the turtles free,” said Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Sarah Anderson, one of the team.

“The first one was well and truly wrapped up. It took all three of us working with knives to cut it free."

“The second one wasn’t tangled as badly and we got it free pretty easily."

“The last turtle seemed to be there more to try help his mates more than anything – he came free as soon as we moved the net,” Able Seaman Anderson said.

The turtles all appeared grateful for their fortuitous release - one dived almost immediately, and the other two were last seen swimming free and catching their breath on the surface.

Once the turtles were released, the relatively small fishing net was recovered for disposal ashore, to prevent any more sea life becoming entangled.

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Simone Van Dam said it was incredibly rewarding to be able to help out “such beautiful animals”.

“We see marine animals all the time at sea and it’s nice to be able to help them out from time to time,” she said.

Glenelg
 has recently participated in Exercise Lumbas in the Philippines.