What the US Coast Guard thought were a package of drugs off the Central American coastline were actually two sea turtles entangled in fishing line and buoys.

When the crew realized what they had approached, they changed gears entirely. Along with protecting people and the economic interests of the country, few realize the Coast Guard is also chartered with protecting the environment. That role was evident as the crew worked to free the two turtles and send them on their way.

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

An officer-mounted camera captured the scene as the crew members hauled the larger 70-pound turtle onboard and carefully cut away the fishing line. The smaller one was freed more easily.

“While we were freeing him, we could see the second, and much larger turtle, was quite literally choking to death,” said Chief Petty Officer Brian Milcetich, a member of the law enforcement team, based on the release. “He had been trying so hard to free himself from the fishing line that he had cinched the line around his own neck.”

Once freed from the line, both turtles swam away safely as the crew celebrated.

© Troywegman | Dreamstime.comSea Turtle Photo