All rescues are unique yet they all contain some of the same elements, such as patience, getting wet, swimming with turtles who do not want company and enlisting the aid of strangers-soon-to-become-friends.
In this case we received a call about a loggerhead hanging out in the same place near shore spot all day. Many times this can be a sign of distress. Our project members responded with boogie and surf boards, ready to paddle out. But first we needed to spot her again when she surfaced for a breath, which is not easy.
Three of us paddled out and formed the Topsail triangle. We bobbed in some remnant tropical storm waves for about an hour until she surfaced inside the triangle. We all started paddling toward her but I could see Joe, who I only knew as guy in blue shorts, was going to reach her first. I shouted some helpful hints, such as “you are going to have to jump off of your board and grab her”. He had never handled a sea turtle before but we had little time for tutorials.
Joe was able to grab her rear end carapace and hang on one handed while Matt, who I only knew as guy in red shirt, towed Joe and the turtle in behind his surf board. As we neared shore we abandoned Joe while we brought the gear to shore and then wadded back out for Joe and the turtle, who would become known as Eclipse.
Once on shore she was placed on a boogie board, loaded into a waiting vehicle and then transported to our facility. The entire rescue took a few hours, but in the end it is always worth it.
Thank you Topsail Beach volunteers for organizing the rescue and hanging in there all afternoon.