Aug 23, 2017

Feel-Good Story of the Day: Ovelia’s Giannakis Saves a Sea Turtle

Peter Giannakis from Ovelia helps save a sea turtle in the East River.

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Over on Gothamist they published a story yesterday about a “fisherman in Queens” rescuing a sea turtle near the Costco in Astoria, right on the East River. Turns out that fisherman is Peter Giannakis from beloved neighborhood restaurant, Ovelia; it’s confirmed on their Facebook page.


First, BRAVO to Pete and his friends for rescuing the sea turtle. All species of sea turtles are either threatened or endangered worldwide. From what I can tell, it looks like a female juvenile Loggerhead sea turtle, which is listed as Threatened under the US Federal Endangered Species Act—this means it’s “likely to become endangered, in danger of extinction, within the foreseeable future.” Internationally it is considered Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

It’s rare that a sea turtle will find its way into the East River, though they do spend time in the Long Island Sound sometimes; no doubt this one got lost just like Riverhead Foundation folks say. While it’s often assumed that sea turtles only spend time in the tropic and subtropical waters, they do travel north. The Leatherback in particular travels all over the place, even to waters in the Arctic Circle, though that is less frequent these days due to population declines.

It appears that the turtle got caught on a hook, and the guys cut him free from the line. (I couldn’t tell if they removed the end of the hook in its mouth. UPDATE: Pete confirms the hook was removed!) One of my favorite parts of the video is when Pete is gently scratching the turtle’s head and neck area in an effort to calm the animal. Awww…

Here’s the video. Again, awesome work Pete and friends! You did Really Good Thing yesterday.

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.


Meg Cotner

Thank you! I’ve updated the post. Thank you so much for what you and your friends did for that turtle – I’m fairly passionate about the plight of the sea turtle around the world, so it did my heart good to learn about your story. Keep on being awesome, Pete!


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