When professional kitesurfer Mitu Monteiro spotted something odd floating in the water off Sal Island in Cape Verde, Africa, he had to investigate — despite the danger. Only days earlier, two fisherman had disappeared near the dangerous, rock-strewn surf he was now moving towards. Upon closer examination, he discovered a distressed loggerhead sea turtle completely entangled in fishing line. The species, considered endangered around the world, has been decimated by fishing gear from industrial fisheries.

"I know it would have died if I didn’t rescue it," Monteiro told Caters News Agency. "She was unable to get food as the filament was preventing her from diving and it was wound tightly around her neck."

Carefully avoiding the pounding surf, Monteiro hoisted the turtle onto his kiteboard and paddled back to shore. There, he was joined by other surfers who helped to cut away some of the line.

“I was afraid of cutting the plastic because it was embedded so deeply into its skin, but what worried me the most was its flipper,” he said. “It was covered in a white substance and smelt bad."

According to Caters News Agency, the turtle is now in the care of an animal rescue group and is recovering well.

As noted by the World Wildlife Fund, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles each year get caught in fishing lines and often drown. Surfers and recreational boaters often come across the turtles as they struggle to break the surface for air. Recent videos like the ones below are just a few of the touching examples of how people are going out of their way to lend a hand.

The WWF is working with fisheries to reduce instances of sea turtles falling victim to longlines and gillnets, as well as advancing technology that allows tangled turtles to break free. To learn more about the threats faced by loggerheads and how to help, hit their official site here.

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Kitesurfer makes daring rescue of sea turtle
Mitu Monteiro risks injury on rocks off Sal Island in Cape Verde, Africa to save the trapped loggerhead turtle.