Coast Guard makes unique rescue in search for drugs

The Coast Guard thought it was seizing a package of drugs floating in a known drug transit zone off Central America. They found something far different. Photo: Screen grab

The Coast Guard thought it was seizing a package of drugs floating in a known drug-transit zone off Central America. They found something far different.

While patrolling a known drug-transit zone off the coast of Central America, Coast Guardsmen made a unique rescue after realizing that a suspicious item floating in the water wasn't drugs, but makeshift buoys with two sea turtles tangled in fishing line underneath.

"There was no question what we had to do," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Hylan Rousseau, according to a Coast Guard press release. "And no one spoke a word. We immediately moved into rescue mode."

The Coast Guard discovered two sea turtles tangled in fishing line. Photo: Screen grab

The Coast Guard discovered two sea turtles tangled in fishing line.

A helicopter on a surveillance mission from the Cutter Stratton from Alameda, California, spotted the suspicious floating object and an interceptor boat was sent to the scene.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jerry Renfroe, a member of the law enforcement team, wore an officer-mounted camera and captured the May 9 rescue on video, which the Coast Guard posted on YouTube on Monday:

"We cut the first turtle free without much incident," said Chief Petty Officer Brian Milcetich, a member of the law enforcement team. "While we were freeing him, we could see the second, and much larger, turtle was quite literally choking to death. He had been trying so hard to free himself from the fishing line that he had cinched the line around his own neck."

With a pair of scissors used by emergency medical technicians, a Guardsman carefully cut off the fishing line. The turtle immediately coughed up some water and took a deep breath.

"Everyone was elated," Milcetich said. "As you see in the video, he didn't stick around to celebrate."

Wrote one commenter on the Cutter Stratton Facebook page, "One of the many, many things I love about the Coast Guard!"

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