One thing Sea Tow captains are known for is being able to think on their feet. There’s no better example than Capt. Johnny Coleman at Sea Tow Fort Myers.
Late last month, Capt. Johnny was out patrolling the local waters, just like he had so many times before, when something caught his eye.
“I was out on my patrol when I saw something the size of a pizza floating around,” Capt. Johnny said. “I pulled up next to it and it was a baby sea turtle that had been hit by a boat. Unfortunately, that turtle didn’t make it; but, because of that, I was put in touch with a local organization called the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc. (CROW Clinic) who helps save local wildlife.”
The very next day, Capt. Johnny received a call from someone at CROW who said there was another turtle found about a mile offshore from Bowman Beach. He immediately began heading toward the area and eventually found the turtle, unable to dive and struggling to survive after being stricken with the after effects of a toxic algae commonly known as “red tide.”
Immediately, Capt. Johnny and his friend Ernie sprang into action; however, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill job.
“I’ve never had to lift something so heavy and dense in my life,” he continued, “but after a few minutes, we were finally able to wrangle her up onto the boat – first onto the swim platform and eventually onto the tow bin, where we set her on a wet tow line and covered her with wet towels while we got her back to shore.”
Capt. Johnny then headed back toward Sanibel, where he met individuals from CROW to hand the turtle off to receive treatment.
Fast-forward a couple weeks and the turtle has been nursed back to full health and is ready to be reintroduced back into the wild. Its caregivers told Capt. Johnny that he saved the 300-pound turtle’s life.
“They told me if we didn’t grab it, the sharks would have gotten to it,” he said. “It already had a bite taken out of its flipper, so we definitely saved that one’s life.”
Capt. Johnny added that the whole situation was as unique as it was rewarding.
“I’ve been on the water my whole life – all up and down the East Coast,” he said, “but I’ve never had to save a sea turtle. That’s a new one.”