The contraband was thought to have been jettisoned from a speedboat by drug-smugglers fearing that a Coast Guard patrol boat was nearby.

The drugs haul complete with trapped turtle was found by crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis.

They had been on a two-month anti-drugs operation out of Key West in Florida, attempting to intercept narcotics routinely smuggled into the USA from central America.

The operation yielded nearly 7000kg of cocaine and the apprehension of 24 suspected smugglers.

The officers had been using a smaller boat to investigate a debris field when they found the male turtle, and reported “significant chafing" from the lines on its neck and flippers.

They succeeded in cutting the lines and freeing the turtle, and also recovered 23m of line to prevent further entanglements.

Loggerhead turtles are an endangered species protected under IUCN guidelines. 

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