Hey Dads! by Jason Weening
Have you and your kids ever rescued a sea turtle trapped in fishing line? Ya. Me neither…until last Monday. Whoa, dude!
Last week I wrote about my boys’ new Rubik’s Cube hobby. Well, since we came down to the Dominican Republic the kids have picked up another new hobby – snorkeling. It started off when I visited one of the local stores full of merchandise straight from China and picked up a couple pairs of masks and snorkels. Which broke, literally, the first time we used them. They actually broke as we were walking out into the ocean to use them. Bogus deal, man. Returning merchandise isn’t really a thing down here, so that twenty bucks went to pay for my “retail education”.
A smart friend suggested I look at the local dive shop for some higher quality snorkeling gear. Glad I did. Most of the kids went back and bought their own sets of top-quality masks and snorkels. We’ve been out exploring the ocean many times even though the locals tell us the snorkeling isn’t very good here. Since most of my snorkeling experience has been in the murky depths of Lake Simcoe, I think the snorkeling is gnarly, dude! It’s amazing what’s swimming around out past the end of your arm.
I was snorkeling with my two oldest boys, Justice (9) and Sterling (11), and we hadn’t seen much more than a bit of coral and some sea weed. Suddenly I heard muffled exclamations puffing up out of their snorkels. Sure enough, they caught a glimpse of a little dude riding the current. A sea turtle. Cowabunga! Cautious at first, we swam closer. That’s when we noticed the fishing line. The poor little guy (or girl?) was wrapped up tight. One fin had about 30 tight loops around it. His un-natural leash only let him swim in a small circle. The line was getting tighter and tighter the more he struggled. Not cool.
If we were boy scouts we would have been prepared. We are not, and so we were not. On land we carry knives or multi-tools. But in the ocean? Nope. How do you cut heavy-duty fishing line with no tools in the middle of the ocean? You start trying stuff. Rip it apart with all your might? Negative. Rub it on the sharp part of the turtle’s own shell? Uh-uh. Justice gnawing it with his teeth? No way, dude. Cue the boys’ inner MacGyver. Get a sharp shell off the bottom and start sawing. This took some coordination while treading water. Justice…hold the line tighty-tight. Sterling…saw away. Dad…hold the turtle. Before you could ask, “Where’s Nemo?”, the line was cut. Excellent, dude. The tightly-coiled loops around his fin proved more challenging, however. The patient would have to come to shore.
The boys took off while I awkwardly swam back carrying the sea turtle. In about 10-minutes we had him on the sand. I told Sterling to run home and grab a knife. He returned a few minutes later with some dull scissors. Close enough. We soon had a group of curious onlookers helping with the rescue operations. Sterling cut the remaining line and began to loosen and unravel it from around the neck and fin. It took some persistence but finally the last piece came off. Awesome! The boys brought him back to the water. Our little dude caught a wave and surfed off into the deep blue sea.
I told the boys few people ever see a turtle in the ocean and even fewer rescue one. A once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure! We made a totally awesome memory and the boys saved the life of the little guy. Time flies, dudes! Make every moment count! Jason Weening talks like a surfer to his nine kids and one cute dudette. Check out his podcast at heydads.ca.