A sea turtle trapped among floating cocaine bales worth $53m USD (NZ$75 million) has been rescued by the US Coast Guard.
The boat crew discovered the large loggerhead turtle entangled in blue rope connecting bales containing 800 kilos (1,800lb) of the Class A drug in the Pacific Ocean on November 19.
Coast Guard Ens. Mark Krebs and his team noticed the injured sea turtle after launching a small boat to investigate a debris field.
“They saw significant chaffing from the lines on his neck and flippers,” said the US Coast Guard.
“They briefed the commanding officer and went to work, carefully cutting the lines wrapped around the sea turtle and then eventually freeing him.
“The boat crew recovered over 75-feet of line to prevent further entanglement of sea life and returned to the law enforcement mission recovering over 1,800 pounds of cocaine valued at over $53 million dollars from international waters.”
The struggling marine reptile was rescued during a 68-day counter drug patrol by the US Armed Forces branch in the Eastern Pacific along the Central American coast.
By the end of the operation, the crew had seized a total of 6,755 kilos (14,800lb) of cocaine, 14 pounds of marijuana and arrested 24 suspected smugglers.
The seizure was part of Operation Martillo, an international operation involving 18 countries targeting criminal organisations moving illicit cargo.
In November, hundreds of dead sea turtles were found by environmental officials floating off the coast of El Salvador .
The BBC series Blue Planet II recently highlighted the devastating effect plastic and human rubbish is having on the ocean .