The 10-year-old boy from Woodinville was at Kahaluu Beach Park on the Big Island of Hawaii when he saw a bunch of fishing line caught up in the rocks near where he was snorkeling.
He followed the line down about 10 feet below the surface of the water and discovered a sea turtle entangled in the line with a hook embedded in its left fin.
“The turtle was just sitting under this lava shelter and he wasn’t really moving,” explains Dylan. “I know you’re not supposed to go that close to them, but I wanted to try and save it. It made me feel sad to see it just sitting there and I didn’t want it to just die down there.”
The Hollywood Hill Elementary fifth grader, who is a strong swimmer, stayed underwater until he could loosen the turtle from the line.
He then brought the creature up to the surface and with the help of his grandma, Sandy Hiatt, carried it to the shore.
“The turtle struggled a lot when I brought it up,” says Dylan, “probably because it didn’t understand I was trying to save it, and it was scared. At one point, it bit my middle finger, which hurt. I think that it was giving me a warning pinch. That kind of freaked me out, but I kept holding on to him.”
When Dylan and his grandma got the turtle to the beach, other bystanders joined them and two men were able to cut the line, but not the hook.
The group eventually decided to leave the hook in and allow it to disintegrate on its own.
“We really couldn’t pry it out,” remarks Dylan, “but at least we were able to separate him from the line so that he could swim away.”
The local youngster, who has an affinity for animals, has been known to help injured birds around his house. He also has a number of pets, including a dog, a small turtle and some fish.
“I like animals and wildlife” he comments. “And I like helping them.”
Dylan’s humane act did not go unnoticed. The media seized upon the story and it quickly spread across the country.
“It’s really cool,” admits Dylan. “I’m in the newspapers and on the Internet.”
Asked if he would do it all over again, he replies without hesitation, “Yes, and I would do it again, not for the fame, but for the animal.”