Florida may not turn into a winter wonderland this season, but the holiday spirit has definitely landed there: Earlier this month, one Florida man captured a video of a fisherman’s brave rescue of a massive sea turtle, and it’s a heartwarming clip to watch.
In early December, Jeff Hyde was working at Sharky’s on the Pier, at Florida’s Venice Beach, when he saw a man leap from the railing of a fishing pier directly into the water below him. Intrigued, Hyde went over to see what was happening, only to see the man—later identified as Austin Selby—struggling with a 350-pound loggerhead turtle.
After being in the water for some time, Selby managed to untangle the turtle from a set of wires and a fishing hook and let the massive creature swim free. “I am very confident the turtle would have died if this man did not jump in and try to save it,” Hyde told Simplemost. “The gentleman is certainly a hero to everyone that witnessed the event.”
The experience began when one fisherman, Rob Merlino, accidentally hooked the turtle on his fishing line. Merlino later spoke to the media about the experience, saying it all started when he felt a tug on his fishing line. “Someone said, ‘I just saw a turtle, I hope it’s not the turtle,'” Merlino told WBALTV recently. “And when I pulled, it felt like a turtle, because a turtle feels like a freight train on the end of the line.”
When the turtle surfaced, Selby—who just happened to be standing nearby—jumped immediately into the water to try and untangle the turtle. According to accounts from witnesses, it took about 15 minutes (and a few scary, close-call nips from the five-foot-long turtle) before the ordeal was over.
Fortunately, for those who weren’t able to see the magical moment in person, Hyde’s video captured the rescue pretty perfectly:
While the rescue was certainly impressive, experts don’t recommend that others follow in Selby’s footsteps in similar situations. “The guy put himself in severe danger and harm,” Gretchen Lovewell, a marine biologist, told the Herald-Tribune. “He’s lucky he got out of that situation without getting bit or harmed.”
In similar situations, others should definitely call in wildlife experts instead. But for now, enjoy the touching video and feel free to share with the animal lovers in your life.