July 18, 2013 9:39:09 AM
BARNSTABLE, Mass. -- Two members of the Kennedy family who thought they were doing a good deed by freeing an entangled sea turtle actually violated the law, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
John Bullard of NOAA's Division of Fisheries said he spoke to brothers Max and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about their rescue of the leatherback turtle and explained to them that what they did was dangerous and a violation of the Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to handle an endangered or protected species.
The Kennedys freed the estimated 500-pound turtle from a buoy line wrapped around its head and fins on July 6 after they spotted it while out sailing on Nantucket Sound.
The brothers have been "cooperative and very helpful" as the agency gathers pictures, gear and other evidence involved in the rescue, Bullard told Cape Cod Times.
Turtle rescue is best left to professionals because of the danger involved, he said. Anyone who spots a distressed turtle should contact NOAA.
An untrained person runs the risk of getting tangled in the line and pulled under by a turtle, which can weigh up to 700 pounds and hold its breath a lot longer than a human, he said.
"You can get entangled, go under and it can turn into a tragedy," he said.
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