ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant’s crew saved one baby and three adult olive ridley sea turtles from entanglement in garbage and abandoned fishing gear last month while on routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
After spotting an unusual floating object that turned out to be a mass of lines, fishing gear and garbage, crewmembers in the cutter’s deployable interceptor boat located the animals caught in the debris and freed them.
The crew then took the drifting debris aboard the cutter for disposal ashore.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Dillon Whitaker, who disentangled the baby turtle, said the mission highlighted one of the reasons he joined the Coast Guard.
“One day you’re chasing drug traffickers, and the next day you get to save the life of a beautiful animal in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” said Whitaker.
While underway, crewmembers rotate through a 24/7 watch routine and are always on the lookout for potentially hazardous debris and endangered sea life in addition to watching for suspicious vessels and signs of distress.
“Coast Guard men and women are skilled mariners and dedicated law enforcement officers devoted to protecting our nation from the scourge of illegal drugs, but they always act as stewards of the environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Brand, the living marine resources manager for the 11th Coast Guard District. “Alert lookouts spotted these distressed turtles, rescued them and removed dangerous floating debris from the ocean so it could do no additional harm. This is a reminder of the harm that marine litter poses to the animals that inhabit the marine environment.”
After freeing the turtles, the ship and crew resumed their patrol.
[Source: U.S. Coast Guard -/- Media Relations]
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