Sea turtle rescued by HMCS Edmonton during counter-narcotics patrols

HMCS Edmonton rescues sea turtle

Royal Canadian Navy Operation Caribbe 2023. Photo: Sailor First Class Heather Van Manen

MARPAC — His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Edmonton crew cooperated with the United States Coast Guard on an emergency sea turtle rescue while deployed on Operation Caribbe in the Eastern Pacific.

The rescue occurred in the mid-morning hours of March 14 after the ship’s lookout – Sailor Second Class (S2) Bridget Erdmann – spotted a suspicious floating object during counter-narcotics patrols. S2 Erdmann wasted no time informing the ship’s officer of the watch, who manoeuvered the ship toward the object for closer inspection. 

Edmonton then dispatched a small boat to investigate the object further for contraband and quickly determined the object to be an abandoned fishing buoy. Shortly thereafter, the boat’s crew discovered a distressed sea turtle entangled in the buoy’s gear.

“As we were about to pull away we saw this big shell emerge, and, [realizing it was a turtle], immediately set to work cutting away the lines,” remarked Sailor First Class (S1) Evan Nevidomsky – the boat’s coxswain. “A whole bunch of fishing line was caught around its neck and flippers. It was a thick line too, so it took a while.”

As S1 Nevidomsky held the boat in position alongside the float, two United States Coast Guard started cutting away nets and lines from the distressed creature. They successfully freed the turtle after a ten-minute effort.

Abandoned fishing gear poses a constant threat to marine animals, and similar wildlife rescues are routinely conducted around the globe during Royal Canadian Navy operations. HMCS Edmonton conducted similar rescues in November 2018 during the ship’s last Operation Caribbe deployment, and crewmembers from HMCS Calgary made a similar sea turtle rescue during drug interdiction operations off the coast of Oman in May 2021.

HMCS Edmonton is the latest vessel of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Pacific Fleet to deploy on Operation Caribbe – Canada’s contribution to the United States-led counter-narcotics mission Operation Martillo. To date, Canadian warships have aided in the seizure of over 120 tons of cocaine and other illegal substances used to finance criminal organizations across North and South America. The ship left Esquimalt Harbour on Feb. 13 and has been on active patrol with members of the United States Coast Guard to disrupt and deter illegal smuggling along the Eastern Pacific.

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