Videographer frees sea turtle entangled in balloon off Palos Verdes Peninsula

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Posted by Max Bottomtime on March 23, 2017 at 10:50:36:

By Laylan Connelly, The Orange County Register

Something shiny caught Bryce Trevett’s eye Tuesday afternoon.

At first glance, it looked like a too-common sight along the coast: a deflated helium balloon floating on the water’s surface.

But as Trevett and friend Angel Hernandez approached on their personal watercraft, they saw the loggerhead sea turtle – its flippers and neck wrapped in yellow line – stuck in the balloon.

Trevett, 26, and Hernandez, 30, had been on the water since 7 a.m., a regular outing for the friends who film wildlife in their spare time. Trevett, of San Pedro, works as an EMT at Torrance Memorial Medical Center but has had a passion for wildlife since he was a child.

The duo are working on a series called “Take to the Wild,” soon to be available on Netflix. They spend days looking for whale fins to chase for footage or any other sights on the sea. One thing they always know they’ll encounter are the helium balloons, let loose to the sky after a celebration then finding their way back down to the earth when they lose their life.

On any given outing, they collect about a dozen balloons from the ocean.

“We find a lot of balloons out there, all day long. We always collect them. We want to keep all the balloons and at the end of the year take a photo of all of them,” Trevett said.

Among the collection will be the shiny yellow one they found about 12 miles off the Palos Verdes Peninsula wrapped around the loggerhead sea turtle, whom they named Crush after a character in one of Trevett’s favorite films, “Finding Nemo.”

“It makes me really angry,” he said. “Everyone has a right to celebrate and everything. I just wish people knew, when you let balloons go, they end up in the ocean, especially when you live by the coast.”

As with plastic bags, a sea creature can mistake balloons for jellyfish and they can get stuck in the animal’s stomach.

Trevett estimates that the sea turtle was just a youngster, somewhere between 5 and 20 years old (these turtles can live to be 100-plus years old).

“The way he was tangled, he just couldn’t move. If a predator would have come, it would have had no chance,” he said. “The string itself was tangled around all four of its flippers and neck. It was really tight on his flippers. It was tangled around pretty much everything.”

Trevett knows sea turtles are protected by law, but he took his chance to help it live by cutting the line with a knife.

“Even if Fish and Game see the video and give me a ticket, I wouldn’t care,” he said. “I would hope they wouldn’t since their business is trying to conserve wildlife.”

When the friends freed Crush and he swam deep under water, it was a rewarding feeling, Trevett said.

“It felt really good. You can really tell he was extremely healthy,” he said. “We were stoked we could help him.”

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