Canal Winchester High School students saved a loggerhead sea turtle from certain death while on a field trip to the Bahamas over spring break.

Canal Winchester High School students saved a loggerhead sea turtle from certain death while on a field trip to the Bahamas over spring break.

Geoff Gaetz found the turtle lying motionless while exploring the beach on his own during a lunch break on the last day of the trip on April 10.

"It was just flipped over on its back," the 17-year-old junior said.

Gaetz said he ran to tell his classmates and teacher Sharon Seckel. They didn't believe he had found a huge sea turtle lying helplessly on the beach amid a pile of debris.

"It was huge," Gaetz said.

When he showed them the turtle, their skepticism turned to sympathy.

"We thought he was dead," Seckel said.

The loggerhead sea turtle's life was not meant to end that day.

"I saw it move its little flipper and I was like, 'Oh, my god!" said junior Brandi Staley.

Students quickly ran to fetch water to pour on the dehydrated turtle, while Gaetz and other boys worked to move the turtle to its stomach and get it to the sea.

Seckel said the turtle easily weighed 200 pounds, which made it at least 100 years old. Loggerhead sea turtles are an endangered species.

After about 45 minutes of heaving the turtle toward the water, inch-by-inch, the turtle entered the sea and the students watched it swim off to live another day.

"We were all a little teary-eyed," Stanley said.

"Spontaneous crying, all of us," Gaetz added.

"It was definitely a good ending to our trip," Seckel said.

Neither she nor the students know why the turtle had been lying helpless on the beach.

"We speculate somebody was going to have him for Easter dinner," Seckel said. "I have seen that before; that's part of their (Bahamian) culture."

The Canal Winchester students took the field trip as part of an elective class on marine biology. They pay $1,750 to take the class, which includes the field trip to Andros Island, the largest island in the Bahamas.

Some students said they joined the class in hopes of one day becoming marine biologists. Others said they took the class just to go to the Bahamas.

"It was a great one-time experience," said 15-year-old sophomore Hannah Coe. "I feel like this is the type of thing you only see on 'Animal Planet.'"

Seckel said she's been teaching the class since the early 1980s. Students go to Andros Island every other year.

"I've seen a turtle before, but we've never saved one," she said.

Seckel said she hopes the experience will make students think twice about nature conservation.

"Saving an endangered species is a lot easier than you'd think it would be," said Jacob Henicheck, 15.