A water rescue officer's decision to release a surprising (and valuable) catch has prompted donations to his team from those impressed with his altruism. Wang Xijun, of the Yellow River search and rescue team, accidentally lifted a valuable 16kg softshell turtle from the water in Henan province, the Zhengzhou Evening News reported on Wednesday. Softshell turtles normally weigh up to 12kg, so to find a turtle of this size in the wild is exceptionally rare. Several people contacted Wang offering to buy the turtle for a high price when they heard the news, but he decided to free it nonetheless. Water scheme threatens Yangtze River porpoises with extinction, scientist warns The report did not explain how he had managed to catch the turtle, but it quoted him as saying: “In all my years of working in the Yellow River, I’ve never caught a softshell turtle this big. “Turtles are intelligent creatures so I released it.” Local factory manager Zhu Chaoyun was so moved by Wang’s actions that he donated 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) to the Yellow River rescue team. “By releasing the 16kg turtle into the wild again, he was protecting the environment. The Yellow River search and rescue team also help save the lives of people who fall into the water,” said Zhu. Chinese tourists’ lucky coins kill aquarium turtle after it eats one and chokes “Their organisation needs funds, so my donation of 10,000 yuan also counts as a way of supporting them.” Chinese softshell turtles have been eaten and used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Wild populations of the species are now classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. However, catching and selling the turtles is still permitted.