Boaters in Notre Dame Bay came upon a leatherback sea turtle tangled in lines at a mussel farm at Tea Arm near Pleasantview Sunday.

Blair Vincent said he had no idea what the creature was at first.

"We just saw a big black object. It was massive. When we got close it became apparent this is a huge sea turtle we're dealing with," Vincent said.

Steven Downer, who was also in the boat, said once the group got closer they noticed the turtle was in bad shape.

"Both of its flippers were tangled, plus there was a rope around its neck," Downer said.

'Turtle heroes'

Vincent said it was clear to them the leatherback — an endangered species — couldn't free itself.

He said they were concerned for the turtle and decided to try to cut it loose.

"It was a little bit frantic, a little bit aggressive at first. It was kinda of flailing around quite a bit. But after we were working with it for a little while it seemed to settle down," Vincent said.

Their attempts were successful and the turtle eventually swam to freedom.

"We're turtle heroes. We are going to go out and free every turtle we can find," Downer laughed.

He estimated it took about five minutes to free the turtle.