Turtle release a ‘time bomb’ says animal charity

| 26/05/2016 | 62 Comments
Cayman News Service

Turtle release on World Turtle Day 2016

(CNS): The animal rights charity that has been campaigning for the Cayman Turtle Farm to be transformed into a true conservation facility has condemned the release of 15 farmed yearlings into the wild. World Animal Protection said the relaunch of the controversial release programme was putting the wild turtle populations in jeopardy because only last year the farm management was dealing with a serious disease outbreak that caused the death of over 1,000 turtles.

The charity said that the Turtle Farm may have “satisfied itself” that releasing the turtles “would not pose any medical risk to wild turtle populations” but in 2015 it had deliberately tried to cover up the disease outbreak and subsequent deaths, despite the threat it posed to public health.

Head of Wildlife Policy and Research at World Animal Protection, Dr Neil D’Cruze, described the return of the release programme as a ticking time bomb for wild turtles in the Caribbean and around the world.

“It is staggering that the Turtle Farm has decided to resume its controversial release programme. The facility has a phenomenally poor record of caring for turtles, demonstrated by the 1,268 turtles that died from a Clostridium outbreak,” he said. ” It is incomprehensible that they appear to be allowed to make this decision for themselves.”

A host of different diseases have been repeatedly identified in the overcrowded conditions of the CTF. Last year’s Clostridium outbreak was one of a number of problems that the farm has encountered with disease that could be passed on to wild populations when farmed turtles are released into the wild.

“We are bitterly disappointed that the Cayman Islands government has not stepped in to prevent these releases from taking place, or for even informing us that they would happen, despite our previous agreement to maintain dialogue,” D’Cruze added.

The CTF claims that since it was first opened in 1968, it has released more than 31,000 captive-bred sea turtles back into the wild. However WAP says that the number of turtles returning to Cayman beaches to nest are still very low. According to the Department of Environment, there are over 200 green sea turtles currently nesting on Cayman’s beaches, and although some are from the Turtle Farm, there are no figures to confirm the ratio.

D’Cruze said that even if all 200 nesting turtles originated from the CTF, it is less than 1% of the farmed turtles released into the wild.

“At best this is a poor use of sea turtle conservation dollars, at worst it is spreading deadly diseases to wild populations,” he stated, as he urged the authorities in Cayman to end the controversial release and use the funds invested in the farm for more cost-effective conservation methods to protect wild turtle populations and increase anti-poaching efforts.

CNS contacted the Turtle Farm but officials there said they did not wish to comment on the matter.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you watch the ads for Sea World on the major networks, they show people releasing green turtles into the wild. What is their protocol for releasing turtles into the wild? Does WAP ignore this because it is in the USA?
    250,000 wild sea turtles are killed every year by net draggers and long liners to supply the seafood industry. Would this not be a more lucrative source of “scoots” if the Japanese wanted them as it is their boats that do most of the fishing that kills them? Why would anyone bother with the 1200 that are harvested at the CTF?

    The statement that CTF sells polished turtle backs to the public is just wrong. CTF chops up and discards ALL of the turtle back to the dump. NONE are polished or sold..

    If the trade in turtle scoots are as prevalent as WAP states, and Mexico partakes in this trade, why are there thousands of scoots on a beach in Mexico from them harvesting over 35,000 per year to eat? Is the USA and Mexico too big a fish for WAP to fry?

    Not trying to deflect here but if you take a look at WAP website you will see how much they care about the wild sea turtle population, not a word about the two facts above. There is also not a word about the fact that the USA ships over 30 million juvenile swamp turtles, that are harvested from the wild to China each year for food consumption.

    Why does WAP and the media use photographs that are over 10 years old to define what CTF does with their turtles? They can tour anytime and see for themselves the improvements at CTF where there is a resident Vet and at least two PhDs on turtles on the staff.

    Before you believe everything that WAP says, Google the above facts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    1 – WAP is not campaigning for the Turtle Farm to become ‘a true conservation facility’, their stated intention is to shut it down. There is no middle ground.

    2 – A conservationist would know that for wild turtles the survival estimate from egg to laying again is 1-in-1000, or 0.1%. So 200 out of 31,000 (not the farm’s claim but WAP’s rhetoric) would be a ‘better’ 0.6%. But WAP don’t care about conservation, just trying to score rhetorical points in their goal of convincing people the Farm should be shut down. (Note, this is not suggesting that wild turtle eggs should go to the Farm. That would be bad conservation.)

    3 – If 15 sick turtles could wipe out a wild population in the millions? then that wild population is so far gone that the potential contribution of those 15 to the total population outweigh the chance that they are all Typhoid Marys. But, again, WAP are not making a cogent conservation argument, they are just scaremongering.

    Yes, we can say a lot about how the Farm need to clean up their act, but that’s not conservation either. It’s animal welfare, best practice, good management, common sense, etc. What we can’t say is that WAP are working for conservation as their primary goal. They are working (rightly or wrongly, your choice) to close the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm down. That is all.

    • Rick says:

      With math like yours, you lose all credibility on the question of science. Please leave the defending to someone who is numerate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ric I agree with the original posters math so could you explain exactly what is wrong with his math.(200 divided by 31000 = 0.64516129% which the poster rounded off to 0.6% for brevity.) Let’s try this another way – the survival rate for wild turtles is stated as 1 in 1000 ,therefore out of 31 thousand hatchlings the established number surviving to maturity should be 31.Therefore if 200 survived out of 31000 we have a survival rate of farm released turtles that is over six times more than that in the wild or 0.645%. Please also note that since these 200 are all females that come ashore to nest, that number has to be increased when we include the males who are impregnating them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The percentage of sea turtles that survive in the wild is less than !% from hatching, so are they upset that the CTF has contributed to the wild population’s survival, or that they sell meat as a farmed product. I can’t imagine they are complaining about the conservation efforts of releasing turtles into the wild, so why the facade of complaint, if they hate the CTF just say so and we can all stop this faux cr@p of 15 released turtles wiping out the wild population.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why do you never see pigs in Cayman? Is it a biblical thing? They sure taste better than sea turtle.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Jealousy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jealousy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is all this is about. The whole world would love to see the collapse of the Cayman Islands. There is a saying ‘People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. CTF is still a conservation facility and a tourist attraction that in spite of management problems have ensured that we Caymanians respect our traditions and in doing so, continue to have such a place where locals, residents and tourists alike can still see, touch and learn about the importance of this tradition.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, seeking to close a loss making facility that causes terrible global PR is an attempt to engineer the collapse of the Cayman Islands.

      • Rick says:

        Shouting from animal conservation groups does not amount to terrible global PR. Most people know that they are not shooting straight. They would do anything to advance their agenda. However, the CTF should clean up its act and not just hide or defend. The Turtle Farm is a great asset. Get the government out of it and regulate (maybe even subsidize it). Just get the government people out of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      That may be the stupidest comment I’ve ever read.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m trying to get the permits to bring back slavery as that was a local tradition the world took from us. I want to set up a captive breeding facility and then release them so we can all have one or two. The danger of course is they might cross breed with the local population.

      MOVE ON!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Setting aside all the other debates one thing is certain – CTF shouldn’t be letting small children interact with the turtles.

    This is the CDC webpage on the risks – http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/reptiles/turtles.html

    • Curious says:

      Very interesting. Does this apply to land turtles (with feet) or sea turtles (with paddles/fins) as well? Have our turtles been diagnosed with salmonella?

      • Anonymous says:

        All reptiles and birds can carry salmonella.

      • Anonymous says:

        In answer to your last question – Yes they have and that is well documented if you’d bothered to check.

      • Anonymous says:

        Curious, about three years ago CTF confirmed the presence of salmonella in the handling tank but said the risks were acceptable because it could only be transferred to humans if it was ingested. That statement clearly showed very little understanding of the way small children like to put their fingers and thumbs in their mouths doesn’t it? In fact it typifies the slapdash way the whole operation has always been managed. I don’t personally care whether people eat turtle meat or not, what I do care about is children’s health being put at risk because of blatant stupidity.

        • Anonymous says:

          @4.31pm It appears that the joke is on you . Ingest ,means to take into one’s body -usually by mouth;for example by a young child sucking on his thumb.What you have described is the perfect definition of ingest, so what exactly was wrong with the CTF statement again. What is ‘slapdash’ is the way you tried to disagree with the Turtle Farm-by agreeing with them. You proved their point for them;thank you.

          • Anonymous says:

            9:50 What exactly is your point? CTF admitted that the turtles had salmonella, they accepted it could be transferred to humans but then still encouraged vulnerable members of the public to handle the turtles. If the Cayman Islands had Health and Laws that would have been stopped.

            Some years ago I worked in a country park, which had a working farm (we bred lambs for their meat) with regular visits from local school children so please don’t try to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to managing the risks of infection. The CTF has no proper protocols in place to protect visitors from infection and that is clearly demonstrated by the lead picture – end of argument.

            • Anonymous says:

              To 6.25am The article that is linked in your earlier post :http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/reptiles/turtles.html the CDC states ‘Turtles in public settings (e.g., zoos and exhibits) should be kept from direct or indirect contact with patrons except in designated animal-contact areas equipped with adequate hand-washing facilities.’ So question is whether or not CTF provided “adequate hand-washing facilities”.

      • Jotnar says:

        What is a land turtle? Do you mean a tortoise? The CDC meant turtles – like the ones in the turtle farm, not the ones with feet in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

        • Anonymous says:

          Jotnar, according to Wikipedia, Americans tend to commonly call them all turtles, whether they are land turtles (tortoises) or ea turtles (e,g green turtle) or terrapins that spend time between land and water. I think it is fair to say that the CDC an American institution was referring to all turtles and not just sea turtles as you suggest. FYI your last phrase is really condescending and snobbish, and lowers your stature rather than raising it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Turtles are, by definition, water based creatures.

      • Anonymous says:

        Curious = either Troll or a CTF employee 🙁

  7. Anonymous says:

    shut down the vile slaughter houses you have in the UK! and the inhumane chicken farms!

    • Anonymous says:

      No slaughter houses for CITES protected species in the UK. Deflection is so desperate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Kind of irrelevant, if the CTF didn’t exist, nor would any of the farmed turtles, the fact the animals farmed are on the CITES list means nothing, what they produce has no bearing on wild population of green sea turtles. They aren’t detracting from existing animals in the wild, if they shut down tomorrow the balance of turtles in the wild would be unaffected, perhaps decreasing from illegal harvesting – if a farmed alternative were available,.

      • Anonymous says:

        CITES listing is meaningless in relation to slaughterhouses. CITES is purely in relation to trade. E.g., you could kill every tiger and as long as you don’t export the pelt it would have nothing to do with CITES. Ignorance is so desperate.

      • Rick says:

        CITES protected species is a cop out and a great example of trying to impose your own understanding of the world on others (btw, that is called cultural arrogance, the most extreme form of ignorance). Try making a valid argument on why chickens deserve to be kept thousands at a time in very confined spaces, fed chemicals and other harmful-to-humans additives and treatments, then slaughtered by the millions and sold as food? How is that any more humane than farming and slaughtering turtles for food?

        I certainly would agree to revising the farming methods and conditions at the CTF; but, animal welfare groups do more harm than justice to the cause of animal welfare by their extreme agendas and methods.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a lot of hot air from this guy, if these 15 turtles are about to spread the turtle zombie apocalypse to the wild turtles, why hasn’t that happened from the 31,000 already released. Why haven’t one of those wiped our the wild population back when I’m guessing they weren’t as well inspected as they are today. You really can’t win, do some conservation and repopulation and get shot down, farm them for food, same response.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Only when all of our turtle eating neighbors (Cayman isn’t the only country that eats turtle) have finished eating all of the wild turtles will people be happy there is a turtle farm.

  10. Anonymous says:

    All this façade of science just to appease a vile market for turtle meat. WAP needs to focus on lobbying in the UK to close it down.

    • Anonymous says:

      you people seem to forget a few things. First this was a scientific facility at one point and so the science of releasing the turtles has already been considered. Second at this point in its history all the current turtles were farmed at the turtle farm not captured in the wild. The killing of some turtles is used to help financilly support the farm or I guess you same people would also be crying out that it is a financial burden to the country.

      What WAP should ask itself is whats it going to be like without the farm and having people kill the turtles in the wild? i dare say that by far and away the farm has been a significant advantage in making sure that this species does not die out.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the UK should ban vile sausages.

    • Anonymous says:

      Regrettably this has the appearance of operating more like a heavily subsidized “Pearl Farm” that only reports on aggregated Oyster sales, and like some vengeful character from “Scarface”, wants the names and address of anyone enquiring about the flippin’ pearl harvest! An endangered 150lb adult green sea turtle (less entrails) would yield something like 100lbs of useful meat, at $9/lb we can assume about $900 in potential CTF revenue, while its 15lb carapace is worth >$15,000 on the Japanese bekko black market with known supply chains from Honduras, Mexico, and Cuba in defiance of the 1973 CITES ban. Turtle Farm FY2014 AR admits that the farm sells polished shell “locally”, but then doesn’t document quantity, value, or parties to those mysterious sales, nor does this public utility feel it needs to describe the security or destruction protocol when asked about it. Like many modern Caymanians, I don’t eat turtle, and don’t care for the negative publicity the CTF has brought on us. Given the deflection and resistance on the scute topic, we are left to wonder why, after submitting close to $100,000,000 in cash subsidies over last 10 years, it is taboo to ask reasonable and necessary questions about any aspect of the CTF operation. If we assume 50,000lbs of meat are sold per year, 400 x 150lb turtles with avg 15lb carapace, that’s potentially $6,000,000 worth of unaccounted bekko scute product disposed of in some manner each year! Maybe this is the time bomb?

      • Anonymous says:

        Modern Caymanians don’t eat turtle?? You can’t be serious! Most of the young Caymanians I know love turtle as do I.

        • Tim Scott says:

          Anonymous, I’m a Young Caymanian and I don’t eat turtle meat, and I don’t think people should kill such a beautiful creature when other foods are plentiful. I also think the turtle farm is ripping off Caymanians by taking money from our government. I don’t understand why the turtle farm isn’t self supporting.

          • Anonymous says:

            Do you eat the beautiful chicken, cows, beans, carrots? You are one Uncle Tom who happen to like sucking up to someone and repeating their dribble.

            • Anonymous says:

              No! They are not beautiful! You blind or wha?!?

            • T. Scott says:

              I’d rather be an Uncle Tom than a stupid selfish jerk like you, mister Anonymous 5:43. In case you don’t know, the chickens, cows, beans and carrots aren’t endangered species.

        • Jotnar says:

          So the bit you are concerned about is the suggestion that young Caymanians might not be eating turtle, not the bit that $6 million of turtle shell might be being sold illegally and someone keeping the cash whilst the government keeps pumping in tax payer money?

        • Anonymous says:

          Every Friday bobo. Favourite meal of the week.

          The press really needs to stop covering the nonsense WAP keeps coming out with.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’ve never been out of West Bay have you

      • Anonymous says:

        I can tell you how they are disposed of because i saw a dumpster full right at the front of the dump in the drop off area. If id known what they were worth i would of dove right in

    • Anonymous says:

      Every couple of months they come out with some crap. Don’t they realize no one is listening to them. They need go sit down.

  11. Anonymous says:

    shut this vile disturbing facility down…….

  12. Anonymous says:

    CITF, please stop releasing turtles into the wild. Have an independent scientific animal group assist with the testing before you release any more. Then, one by one, have them tested and then release them all!!!! Don’t stop until every turtle is released or quarantined because of some health risk to the wild population.

    Once they are all gone, shut the place down. Let’s see how the wild population survives against the Japanese trawlers.

    And then, we will wait for the know-it-All’s at the WAP to solve it. Hypocrisy is bold.

    • Jotnar says:

      When’s the last time you saw a Japanese trawler in the Caribbean? Think our local turtles at far greater risk from us then Japanese fishermen.

      • Anonymous says:

        Whilst it may not be specifically japanese you would be very suprised by the amount of large suspect vessels that are funded by asian countrys that fish the caribbean. Some south american countrys that border the caribbean sea are currently giving away fishing rights for investments in infrastructure. Its a slippery slope as these vessels are not well monitored and can fish anywhere once they have a home port.

      • Anonymous says:

        Than Japanese fisherman

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you think the turtles just hang around the smb all their lives???!! Besides, I’m sure you know that there are more countries, than just Japan, that takes part in the practice of racking the bottom of the sea.

  13. anonymous says:

    What a shame!

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