Man rescues seal caught in fishing net on Martha's Vineyard

Man rescues seal caught in fishing net on Martha's Vineyard

MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. — Amazing video shows a man coming to the rescue of a seal caught in fishing net, the hero using a knife to cut the animal free.

Anthony Marcantonio says he was in the right place at the right time

"Got a little closer, tons of nets and rope and everything around its neck," Marcantonio said.

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While out for a drive Sunday afternoon, the Martha’s Vineyard man spotted a stranded seal pup on Chappaquiddick Beach.

"When I first went over to him, he showed his teeth and was like, 'Who are you?'" he said.

The seal was alone wrapped in rope and netting.

"[I] grabbed gloves, [and a] boxcutter knife [and] threw towel over him," Marcantonio recalled.

He got on top of the seal and sat on it, delicately working to cut the ropes to try to save its life.

"There was so many different kinds of netting mixed in," Marcantonio said. "There was fishing net rope and some pieces of lobster traps all tangled within in, and some of the line was so tight around his neck I could barely get the boxcutter knife on him."

Although Marcantonio was being compassionate, what he did is actually against the law. According the experts at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it's illegal to touch a seal, even one in distress, under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

"Although the general public […] may mean well, [they] can get hurt, the animal can bite them, they can hurt the animal trying to detangle them," said Shelley Dawicki, a Comm Specialist for NOAA Fisheries. "Whichever the situation may be, so it's best let trained responders do that."

"I agree 100 percent because I got lucky nothing went wrong," Marcantonio said. "I got lucky in that situation but wouldn’t take much [if] that seal gets a bite on you."

After working on the seal for about six or seven minutes, Marcantonio was finally able to free it, and the pup wasted no time heading back into the water.

"And after I released him, I drove a little bit away and I stopped and did some fishing and a seal popped up like three feet away," he recalled. "[It] looked at me, don't know if [it was the] same one. I'd like think so, saying, 'Hey thanks.'"