After months in the hospital, long-time surfer Michael Perius went back in the water to save a turtle in distress.
The rescue was captured on camera by Perius’ wife.
“We want to make sure that we get everything off this turtle,” Michael Perius can be heard saying in the video.
Perius and two other men sprang into action to help the turtle that was tangled in a buoy’s rope off Hanalei.
“You’re alright buddy. Come on. It’s OK. It’s OK,” the group can be heard saying to comfort the turtle.
While Perius was helping to rescue the animal, the turtle was also helping to save Perius.
“When I got in the water and I did that, I was no longer a handicapped individual. I was whole,” Perius said about the rescue.
Perius has been a surfer since he was a kid. His love for the ocean goes beyond words.
However, just a few months ago, Perius thought he’d never see the ocean again after blood clots in his left ankle required doctors to amputate his leg below the knee.
“I really didn’t even think I was going to make it out of the hospital. I had nine separate surgeries and 225 staples in my left leg,” Perius said about the grueling last few months.
Perius could be seen comforting the turtle as his friend helped cut the rope from the animal’s head and flipper.
“Get a little water. Get a little air. We’re going to be good,” Perius said to the turtle.
The rescue changed Perius’ life. It was his first time in the ocean in nearly six months.
“He knew that we weren’t there to hurt him,” Perius added about the moment he made eye-contact with the animal.
Perius said this incident made him realize the buoys with ropes are harmful to turtles, and he hopes something is done about it.
“I think that the state needs to really look at this and try to figure out a way to make it safer for the turtles,” he explained.
Now Perius has a message for others like him.
“Hey man, so you’re missing something? So this gone? You can still do something. There’s still things we can do,” he said.
NOAA said you are allowed to try and help a turtle, so long as it is safe for both you and the animal.
If you find a marine animal in distress, call the Marine Animal Response Hotline at (888) 256-9840.