In an extraordinary scene on Sunday, a diver on the island of Rhodes resuscitated a sea turtle that stopped breathing after getting tangled in ropes and dragged to the sea bottom.
Images and video from onlookers captured the rescue on Gennadi Beach on the southeast side of the island, as the large turtle, its head drooping, was moved to the shoreline amid gently crashing waves.
In a post on Facebook, Stavros Akkouris said beachgoers “called Giorgos Makryllos, an experienced diver, and the rescue operation of the sea turtle began.”
Makryllos swam to the turtle, cut the ropes that were attached to iron bars and with another man, gently moved it to the shore.
The turtle appeared unresponsive as beachgoers gathered around unsure what to do, as is obvious in videos. One child tried to help by scooping up water and pouring it over the turtle’s shell. Another child lifted the turtle’s head to support it.
Makryllos then wrapped his mouth around the turtle’s nostrils, blowing air in and hoping to revive the reptile.
According to reports, the rescue effort on the beachline lasted for several hours amid curious and concerned bathers, including children. Makryllos was getting guidance over the phone from staff at Archaelon, the sea turtle protection society of Greece, which had been contacted, according to reports.
The effort paid off, as the turtle managed to be revived and then quickly swam out to sea.
“After [four] hours of persistence, our turtle recovered and we saw it swimming in the blue waters of the sea of Gennadios…congratulations to our Giorgos, to Archaelon and to everybody…we all experienced moments of anxiety and a beautiful feeling in our souls!!!” Akkouris wrote on his Facebook account.
Sea turtle strandings in Rhodes have long been a problem. A total of 209 strandings were recorded along the coasts of Rhodes from 1984 to 2011, according to a November 2013 article in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.
Those types included mostly loggerhead turtles, along with caretta and green turtles, or Chelonia mydas. The article noted that data from Rhodes showed evidence that human activities “detrimentally affect mainly larger-sized loggerhead turtles living in shallow waters.”
On the island of Zakynthos, Loggerhead Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. They do so on the southern coast during the months of April to June on the bay of Laganas.