The Pensacola Beach Lifeguards are keeping more than beach goers safe each day — they’re also keeping an eye on our precious sea life.
And today that precious sea life was a 77 pound loggerhead turtle named Melon.
When Melon was accidentally hooked from the Pensacola Fishing Pier, it almost immediately caught the lifeguards’ attention and they headed out on their rescue board to assist the distressed sea turtle.
The lifeguards kept him safe while they waited for the rescue mission from the pier to begin. The rescue from the pier involves a golf cart with a crane and net that is lowered into the water. The turtle is then placed safely into the net by the lifeguards, and the crane lifts the turtle to the pier where the line can be cut.
“The pier just got the golf cart with the crane and today is the second day we’ve used it and the first day it worked correctly,” said Stephanie Allen, Escambia County Turtle Patrol Volunteer.
So what happened next? Melon was taken to the end of the pier where lifeguards Paige and Sam kept him cool under a hose while they waited for Turtle Patrol to arrive.
Stephanie retrieved Melon and drove the turtle to Navarre where it was handed off to another patroller and driven to Fort Walton Gulfarium C.A.R.E Center. Melon will then be unhooked and examined by a vet before being released back into the Gulf. Most turtles are also tagged at the Gulfarium, but Melon was already tagged meaning it’s a ‘repeat offender.’
On May 23 Melon was hooked on Navarre Pier and then released on May 24. From there, Melon was busy swimming to Pensacola Beach Pier where he was again hungry for a free meal, hooked and rescued today, June 6.
”This happens at least once or twice a week. We ask not to cut the line or if you have to, to leave at least two feet and call Natural Resources at (850) 426-1257. Stephanie said. “Our response time is amazing these days. We have the help and support from the pier attendants and the lifeguards and it really makes a big difference.”
Massive thank you to Stephanie and all the Turtle Patrol, volunteers, lifeguards and everyday individuals helping to make take these precautions when these things happen. And lastly, well wishes to Melon, our local turtle celebrity.