An alligator snapping turtle was saved after a fishing hook attached to a nylon line was stuck in its mouth.
Harrowing footage shows vets struggling to remove the hook from the endangered animal’s mouth in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand on February 18.
The 25kg reptile – native to North America some 8,000 miles away – was found by a local fisherman who was trawling near the village.
The villager felt something heavy tugging his rod so he called his colleagues to help him pull it.
However, they were shocked when they noticed it was a strange-looking turtle instead of a huge fish.
The fishermen called the marine wildlife centre to turn over the animal and help them remove the hook that had pierced through its mouth.
The vets had difficulty controlling the aggressive marine animal as it wouldn’t open its mouth. They had to use a stick to keep its mouth opened and remove the hook inside.
After almost half an hour, medics were able to remove some of the fishing line, but the metal hook was still lodged deep within its throat.
Rescuer Pichitchai Pratate said the reptile was a North American species that rescuers assumed was taken to Thailand as a pet.
He said: ‘Someone probably got bored of this alligator turtle and released it into the sea, but then it managed to get its mouth stuck in a fishing line.’
Vets covered the turtle with a red cloth to prevent it from panicking as there were several people watching the rescue operation before being sent to the Petchburi Fisheries Center for surgery. The line was later removed.
Rescuer Pichitchai Pratate added: ‘The biggest danger for many marine animals is human activity. It’s sad. We’re a threat to their survival.’
Alligator snapping turtles are classed as ‘threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species