CAPE MAY — Authorities say a sea turtle that was entangled in a fishing trap line and was being circled by sharks off New Jersey was rescued by a Coast Guard cutter.

The Coast Guard says the stricken animal was reported Thursday afternoon 11 miles southeast of Cape May by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, which works to free stranded animals along the coast of the Garden State.

The cutter Shearwater, an 87-foot patrol boat, headed to the scene and saw sharks encircling the turtle, so a team in a small boat was sent to circle the ailing animal until the sharks dispersed.

Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater arrives on scene where a sea turtle is entangled in a fishing trap line 11 miles southeast of Cape May, Aug. 13, 2020. The crew sprang into action to rescue the turtle when they spotted sharks beginning to swarm. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Jason Breckner)

Officials said crew members then cautiously approached the turtle and cut it free.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Mason Sanders and Petty Officer 2nd Class Carliene Lyon work to free a sea turtle tangled in a fishing trap line while Fireman Jason Breckner assists, August 13, 2020, near Cape May, New Jersey. The crew from Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater noticed sharks swarming as they arrived on scene and immediately launched their small boat to help the turtle free. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Grimaud Kouwenaar)

The cutter's officer in charge, Master Chief Petty Officer Anthony Martinez, called it “the proudest day I’ve had on this cutter."

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