Dramatic footage shows the moment kind-hearted Indonesian villagers returned a 420-pound leatherback turtle to the ocean after finding it stranded on a beach.
“At first, we thought it was a crocodile, but we were surprised to see it was a giant turtle,” local resident Jendry Rendy Tentero told ViralPress of the aquatic giant, which he discovered June 10 on Oping Beach, located in the North Sulawesi province.
Tentero and others were reportedly at a friend’s birthday when they noticed the titanic turtle trying in vain to return the water. They reported the incident to local wildlife officers, who suspected that the behemoth sea beast had been funneled into the estuary by a current, whereupon it had gotten “stranded while finding its way back to the sea.”
Thankfully, the leatherback was reported to be uninjured.
Unwilling to let their pelagic pal perish ashore, the Good Samaritans banded together and assisted the migratory reptile. The accompanying clip shows the revelers pushing the leatherback — which is the world’s largest, with a maximum weight of 2,200 pounds — out to sea like a supply-laden rowboat.
With one final shove, they manage to get the colossal critter into the water, whereupon it swims to freedom, prompting onlookers to cheer wildly.
The leatherback is currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to its plummeting population caused by extensive egg harvesting and accidental entanglement in fishing gear, ViralPress reported. It is estimated that global populations have declined by 40% over the past three generations, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.