DANA POINT (CBSLA.com)Â â A giant sea turtle is swimming freely again after being rescued off Dana Point.
Dana Wharf Sportfishing crewman Jason Kunewa said he and Capt. Bo Daniel were about 15 miles offshore looking for false killer whales Sunday when they spottedÂ a 700-pound leatherback sea turtle tangled in kelp.READ MORE: Enrollment Down 6% At LAUSD Schools
“I knew I had to do it. I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
Without giving it a second thought, a wetsuit or a plan, Kunewa immediately grabbed a knife and jumpedÂ into the water.
He said the kelp wrapped around the sea creature’s body. He cut quickly but carefully, trying desperately to avoid slicing the turtle’s fins or neck.READ MORE: 'Banksy: Genius Or Vandal' Exhibit To Open In Early October
“I got him cut off as much as possible. It looked pretty free and swims pretty fast away from me after that,” he said.
The native Hawaiian says his aunt and grandmother on the Big Island often saved sea turtles, which are considered sacred animals in their family.
This was Kunewa’s first rescue.Â In Hawaiian tradition, Kunewa’s family symbol is the sea turtle.
Seven years ago, he had it tattooed on his arm. “It’s my aumakua. Anytime you can help them out when they need help. I kind of felt like it knew I was there to help him.”MORE NEWS: Latino Restaurant Association Kicks Off DINE LATINO Restaurant Week
Aumakua is a family god in Hawaiian mythology.