VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — A daring sea rescue was all caught on camera this week in Venice.
On Monday afternoon, Rob Merlino was fishing off the Venice Pier when he hooked something big.
“Someone said, ‘I just saw a turtle, I hope it’s not the turtle.’ And when I pulled, it felt like a turtle, because a turtle feels like a freight train on the end of the line,” recalled Merlino.
When it reached the surface, he saw it – a 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle, roughly five feet long.
It was too big to drag to shore, but he needed to get the hook out. Thankfully, a good Samaritan dove in.
Austin Selby jumped into the water, and for about 15 minutes, he swam with the turtle, desperately trying to free the hook from its mouth.
Along with the hook, there was fishing line wrapped around its neck and one of its fins.
But the turtle put up a fight, at one point even taking Selby underwater.
A huge crowd gathered on the pier to watch and eventually, an exhausted Selby set him free.