The crew of the 154-foot Lawrence Lawson, a fast response cutter based out of Cape May, New Jersey, spotted the approximately 252 lb Loggerhead Turtle while on a patrol off the coast of Delaware at approximately 11 a.m.
The crew monitored the turtle and noted it was covered in marine growth and showed difficulty diving underwater and needed aid.
The crew of the Lawson contacted members of the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) and arranged to pick them up in the Lawson’s deployable over-the-horizon small boat, while Coast Guard Station Cape May brought members of the Sea Turtle Recovery to the ship.
“Members of MERR and Sea Turtle Recovery knew right away that the turtle was sick because it was floating,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Taylor, coxswain aboard the Lawson’s small boat. “ They told us that if turtles can’t dive, they can’t eat, and if we hadn’t helped it, it would have slowly starved to death.”
With the members of MERR and Sea Turtle Recovery aboard, the crew of the Lawson worked in conjunction with the cutter’s small boat crew to use a cargo net as a scoop to retrieve the turtle.
After the crews successfully and safely secured the turtle, crewmembers brought it around to the rear of the Lawrence Lawson to an area called a stern notch, which is used to deploy the cutter’s small boat. The turtle was lifted into the stern notch, where scientists from MERR and Sea Turtle Rescue provided it aid, care and assessed its condition.
“It was a unique experience and took a lot of coordination and teamwork between the Lawson crew, MERR and Sea Turtle Recovery to rescue the turtle and ensure it received the best possible treatment before being returned to its natural habitat,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Rizzo, commanding officer of the Lawrence Lawson. “It’s a great feeling for the crew to know that we had a part in saving an animal in jeopardy of becoming endangered.“
Scientists from Sea Turtle Rescue gave the Lawson crew the opportunity to name the female turtle, and they chose “Tammie,” after the historic Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa.