Leatherback Sea Turtle Caught in Crab Trap Freed by Jacksonville Police

PHOTO: Steve Mullen and Brad Smith of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office release a leatherback sea turtle entangled in a crab trap.
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Two off duty police officers freed a leatherback sea turtle caught in the tangle of a crab buoy yesterday.

Steve Mullen, a Patrol Lieutenant for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office took fellow officer Brad Smith out on his boat through the St. John's River and into the Atlantic when they stumbled upon a turtle in distress.

"We turned South about a third of a mile out of the inlet and we saw a turtle stuck in a crab buoy," Mullen told ABC News.

"It ended up being a very large leatherback turtle, and it looked dead," he said.

Leatherback turtles are a critically endangered species according to the World Wildlife Fund.

"The crab trap weighs about twenty five or thirty pounds and was still caught onto the turtle." Mullen freed the turtle from the ties, and said when the reptile was finally unchained, "he was the fastest turtle I've ever seen."