Turtle release condemned by animal charity

| 20/12/2016 | 85 Comments
Cayman News Service

Hatchling turtle released into the wild by the Cayman Turtle Centre

(CNS): Activists from World Animal Protection, the leading animal welfare charity campaigning to transform the Cayman Turtle Centre into a conservation facility, has condemned the recent release of 36 yearling turtles into the sea. The CTC (formerly the Cayman Turtle Farm) resumed its release programme in May when it let ten turtles go after a temporary suspension for three years due to concerns that releasing farmed turtles into the sea could spread disease and put wild turtles at risk. The WAP believes the risks remain and said the controversial release programme presents a danger for wild turtles across the world.

The latest batch of 36 young turtles was released from Barkers on 10 December and the animal charity has stated that the quarantine procedures would not address or counteract the ongoing problems at the farm, where turtles are still suffering from diseases and birth defects.

The head of Wildlife Policy at World Animal Protection, Dr Neil D’Cruze, urged the government to reinstate the ban on releasing the turtles because the threats have not gone away

“World Animal Protection is very concerned to hear that the Centre has chosen to resume its highly controversial turtle release programme,” he said. “These turtles have been intensively farmed in overcrowded conditions proven to be a hotbed for disease that could now be passed on to wild populations. We urge the Cayman government to reinstate the justified ban that was in place since 2012.”

D’Cruze also took aim at the Department of Environment, noting that the release of the farmed turtles appeared to have its support.

“The DoE has a responsibility to protect wild turtle populations,” the activist stated. “If the DoE encourage and support such a controversial and risky release programme, it will set conservation alarm bells ringing throughout the Caribbean.”

The DoE’s main concern, however, is protecting the wild population in Cayman that has been devastated over the years by firstly over-fishing and then poaching. The farm is still considered an effective solution to the potential massive increase in poaching that could occur if it was to stop selling the meat, which, despite the controversies elsewhere in the world, remains the national dish.

An independent survey commissioned by the DoE last year found that even though 70% of people here do not consume the meat, almost half of those that do said they would buy poached meat if the farm closed.

The DoE experts also believe that the farm has had some impact on the increase in the number of adult turtles coming back to nest on beaches around Grand Cayman. Researchers from the department are still carrying out genetic analysis to determine the real impact the farm has had on the wild population in and around Cayman waters.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , ,

Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (85)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dr. D’Cruze, please buy the Turtle Farm – no government will ever write off (as an expense) that big debt ball that Mac started rolling.

  2. Unison says:


    There are already many deseases in the sea for crying out loud! It is cruelty to slowly torture these animals in crowded conditions. I applaud the Turtle Farm for starting back their release program. Show mercy to these animals; they deserve a taste of freedom!

    • Anonymous says:

      But the release is not really reducing the number of animals at the Farm. They are breeding ‘extra’ to release. So is the release really helping with what you think the Farm’s problems are?

  3. Anonymous says:

    speaking to caymanians about animal welfare is like banging your head against a brick wall….

    • Anonymous says:

      Dealing with the very serious mental disorder called libtardism can also make you want to bang your head on the wall.

    • Be careful says:

      Yeah, okay, its your opinion, even if it is totally wrong and racist.

      But i got an idea for you. Name yourself personally and I will meet you. We can see whose head gets banged.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well this Caymanian is preparing some Turtle right now….let the feast begin.

      Bang your head about that.

    • Anonymous says:

      There in lies the problem with the Turtle farm. Its only reason for survival is get the Caymanians their turtle meat without completely wiping out all turtles within a thousand miles. There is no way to train them to not kill every turtle they can find if they can’t get it from the farm. There is no fixing this problem without fixing the Caymanians problem with following laws and rules. So there is no fixing this. Like many other things everyone else must just live with here, ignore it, and act like its all good. Unless you want to be put in the driftwood farm.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is no-one who can go the breeding pond in the Turtle centre and sit there as long as you want and give us the true count of how many turtles are their. How would you count how many male and female turtles in the world . People who believe in a fantasy world that nothing should be different then where they come from are frightening. How can you eat a cow? She gives milk to her calf the same way a human mother does? She only makes one calf per year. The global cattle population amounted to about 979.64 million animals in 2015. More than 30 million cattle were slaughtered both commercially and in farms annually in the United States and over six million were slaughtered in Nebraska in 2014. By 2050 we’ll need to feed two billion more people. How can we do that without overwhelming the planet? Dairy cows and their manure produce greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. Poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources. And unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can lead to the loss of ecologically important areas, such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.
    Aquaculture is the solution as the world’s population grows to 9 billion in 2050. Rather then find fault with Turtle farming we need to embrace the concept for the future. We could grow tens of thousands of Sea turtles per acre of land. Remember that turtle meat taste like beef and has no cholesterol . Remember that the planets temperature is increasing and cattle will be harder to produce because of heat and water rationing.
    Now tell me who is not thinking for the future?
    David Miller

    • Anonymous says:

      Turtles grow even slower than cows and would consume far more resources to farm effectively. Cayman turtle farm has been trying to farm them for decades and has never figured out how to do it cost effectively. Why should we continue with this money losing proposition?
      Aquaculture is just as dirty as regular farming it is just harder to see initially. for proof simply look to the salmon pens in the pacific northwest of the US. disease is rampant and the effluent causes algae blooms regularly.
      BTW turtles taste nothing like beef. Very little of a turtle is turtle ‘steak’ most turtle meat is gelatinous mush.

      • Anonymous says:

        That gelatinous mush you are talking about is the best damn part! You can have the steak and give me all the delicious gelatinous mush!

      • Anonymous says:

        Your ignorance of Turtle farming and turtle meat is profound. Almost all of turtle meat is stake muscle, It is nothing like a cow inside. it is just mixed with other parts in turtle stew so that you don’t discard those parts but use them instead.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your ignorance of spelling is profound. I have never eaten a stake muscle but I would imagine you would get splinters in your tongue. Turtle steak is a muscle, and thus the second descriptor is redundant. The other parts are cartilage and fat that turn to jelly when cooked. Very similar to pigs feet in that way. Cow has a higher percentage of muscle vs. fat and cartilage partly because it has been bred that way over the years and partly because it lacks a carapace and thus needs the muscles to support its body so it can move around.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your thinking is right but as usual its how it is accomplished that’s the problem. How smart would it be to make a tourist attraction from a chicken farm that puts out poor quality products? Yes there is a reason for cheap chicken but very expensive low quality turtle meat? Factor in that its very expensive because of the tourist attraction that cost the Cayman Islands millions of dollars to keep it functional.(In other words its a huge failure). Your thoughts David Miller?

  5. MM says:

    Funny how the world can label Caymanians as barbaric for eating a native dish when the reason green turtles have become endangered was due to the high demand of meat for aristocratic groups in North America and Europe…


  6. Anonymous says:

    This is the critical and shameful truth:

    “An independent survey commissioned by the DoE last year found that even though 70% of people here do not consume the meat, almost half of those that do said they would buy poached meat if the farm closed.”

    Population 58,435 (2013) x 0.15 = 8,765 self-centered criminally-tolerant willing to poach endangered species because they believe they have some exceptional right to do so.

    DOE: Out of clear necessity, shouldn’t some portion of the tens of millions spent in direct public funding go towards improving public values and attitudes? Like labelling on cigarette packets, we need more public awareness of the significant cost to society (foregone and much-neglected public services and benefits) to support this retaliatory counter-culture middle finger to the planet. Maybe more people will then start to understand how this habit degrades our society and international reputation as a jurisdiction to visit or do business with. We do it to ourselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly because those with such backwards attitudes are considered a key voting demographic in the rotten boroughs the right thing will never be done.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or…….. those 8,765 people could continue to eat readily available, farmed turtle meat and have no reason to poach turtles from the wild and the income from the sales could allow thousands of head started turtles to be introduced to the wild ………. as is happening now.

    • Anonymous says:

      70% of those that responded to the survey…. you really think that is representative of the population?! I don’t know a Caymanian that doesn’t eat turtle meat! And a lot of Jamaicans I know eat it too… fact is this is our thing.. we have looming food shortages all over the world and these people trying to tell us to stop eating it…

      • Anonymous says:

        Eat it all you want. Just pay for it yourself instead of getting the public to fund it. But in your ignorance that makes you full of bliss and other things that is also your right. Right?

      • Anonymous says:

        YEs, it is representative of the population. The population is a lot more heterogeneous than you want to believe. http://www.doe.ky/marine/turtles/darwin/

        And turtle farming will do nothing for looming food shortages since it relies on feeding the turtles food made from other food products. If we really want to deal with global food shortage, well, (2) we all go vegetarian and (1) we work on distribution and governance in a lot of places where that’s really hard to do.

  7. Anonymous says:

    More turtle releases please. The small ones dem is tastiest

  8. Concerned says:

    So the argument in support of the farm is that it allows the tradition of eating what are now endangered species to continue and because, if farmed meat wasn’t available, folk would illegally butcher the wild turtles into extinction. And when a world animal protection organization expresses concern that creatures are being released into the wild from a meat farm with a history of disease, that’s ok because the farm knows best…?
    There’s a lot wrong there. Wake up Cayman, we have a responsibility to the planet.

  9. Anonymous says:

    CNS, I can understand WAP needing to propagate 10 year old negative statistics on Cayman Turtle Centre in order to support their $9.5 million per year conservation budget (read 5 star travel and free hotels and meals), however, I fail to understand the incentive for you to publish such negative headlines in support of them. XXXXX

    CNS: The answer to your question is no, as I’m sure you are aware.

    What I cannot understand is why, with both of you owners living on Island, you cannot take the time to do some investigating of your own instead of just reprinting everything Dr. DeSouze says at face value.

    A minimum amount of time on the phone will reveal to you that the release protocol, in terms of ensuring that turtles released to the wild are disease free, is not only endorsed by DOE but is in fact stricter that the US Fish and Wildlife guidelines for their releases into the wild as well far stricter than the DOE protocol for releasing our Blue Iguana back into the wild.

    You should also investigate the large body of scientific study that has taken place at the Cayman Turtle Centre over the years as it is the only place in the world that can afford access to turtles of all ages. There are many positive stories to write about the Cayman Turtle Centre if you just make an effort to look instead of relying on WAP for your headlines. One last thing, these scientific studies by leading US Universities also show that the turtles at Cayman Turtle Centre are far more disease free that any sampling from the wild.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately, the list of scientific papers emanating from the Cayman Turtle Meat Facility is a quick read and not very current. In fact, the most recent paper was authored nearly 6 years ago, and that one questioned the role of tourism in turtle conservation. The three previous were commissioned by UCCI. Less than 5 papers in last 10 years if you want to go back that far.

      Anyone can easily verify that there is no actual science happening anymore, though many would certainly like to believe and proclaim otherwise.


      • Anonymous says:

        And how many papers have WAP published in the past 6 to 10 years?….NONE. Take out Turtle.ky and put in WAP in your Google search and all that comes up is this CNS article, certainly not a scientific paper written by WAP.

        • Anonymous says:

          But WAP is not citing their production of scientific papers to defend their existence, which is one of the Farm’s tactics. Hence this factually referenced counterpost. If we can’t answer these sorts of challenges rationally, then don’t say anything because histrionics just make us seem weak.

          (And WAP do produce scientific papers. Its one of their tactics. Have staff and associates publish a paper and then publicize as ‘scientists say …’. They’ve done a couple on the Farm. Not great science IMO so I’m not linking to them but if you read CNS back-issues you’ll find them. Look for WSPA & D’Cruze.)

      • Anonymous says:

        And therefore as well as being outdated all of these reports are biased and unbelievable in any event.

        • Anonymous says:

          Just because they were done at the Farm, or wherever, doesn’t make them bad science. That sort of “I don’t like it so I’ll denigrate it” reasoning is exactly what the problem here is.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have a fat twig and two juicy berries WAP can busy themselves conserving.

    – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      WAP wont have no time for fat twigs and juicy berries Who.

      Once they have shut down the Turtle Centre they will be too busy going after the Fishing and Seafood Industry to stop them killing and discarding the 250,000 turtles they kill and discard every year.

      I am sure CNS will delight in reporting on that ……….. when it happens.

    • Anonymous says:

      take a break who…this issue is beyond your limited intellect….

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s not what I heard…

  11. wasp says:

    Mind your own business for one, the Turtle Farm has been raising and releasing turtles back into the sea for longer than these so fanatics existed. Go and concern yourselves with all the starving cows and other animals in countries like India. Places that the wildlife really need protection.
    We love and enjoy eating turtle meat in the cayman islands, get over it. I wish I had some now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually the cows in India eat better than the humans. Hey wait…look over there…is that a flying pig. Stop trying to justify your ignorance by pointing at others.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is there any scientific evidence as to the success of the turtle release program? Certainly, the turtle population has increased over the last 20-30 years, after 1981 when all turtles were included under CITES. Some species were protected in 1975. I would love to see some scientific evidence on the effects of turtle release – anecdotal evidence won’t do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good luck. For all our tens of millions in public funding, there is actually no science going on. No papers by anyone foreign or domestic authored for almost 6 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      With the advent of DNA testing, there is plenty of proof that the head starting program of Cayman Turtle Centre practiced by the Turtle Centre over the years have resulted in more adult nesters from there than the wild, over the past few years.
      The DOE are responsible for the turtles in the wild and do an exemplary job of cataloguing all nests in the three Cayman Islands each year. Part of this monitoring includes collecting materials that can be tested for DNA and they work with institutions in the US to extract DNA which can be tested against strains origination fro captive bred turtles at the Turtle Centre.

      This should satisfy your need for scientific evidence as anecdotal evidence has been scoffed at in the past as just old wives tales. put in place

      Incidentally the Turtle Centre only releases Greens, which show a high increase in nesting over say 1980. The Turtle Centre does not release Hawksbill nor Loggerhead Turtles and neither of these show the increases like that the Greens show so CITES regulations, put in place in 1981, can hardly take the credit for the success of the green turtle.

      Anecdotally, the Green turtle is not showing the same increase in nesting in the sister Islands, where the Turtle Centre has not been releasing turtles over the years, that we see in Grand Cayman, as one would expect if the CITES regulation was the leading cause for the increases in nesting, although CITES unquestionably has resulted in more turtles being left in the wild worldwide I know that is anecdotal but you can take it for what it is worth

      • Anonymous says:

        Anecdotally inaccurate. See the CNS article a couple of months ago reporting green AND loggerhead nest increases. – You started off strong, then went too far. Unless you can back up your claim with a published article somewhere?

        “the DoE is beginning to identify green turtles that were released from the Cayman Turtle Farm in the 1980s coming back to nest on local beaches. But the DoE is also seeing an increase in the loggerheads, which are not released by the farm”

  13. Wishful Camanian says:

    Shut it down! Save us $10,000,000 per year!

    • Anonymous says:

      That is right?
      Shut it down and give the money to enforcement to put people in jail for poaching turtles out of the wild because they cannot go to the Turtle Centre and buy farm raised turtle meat. At the same time find some more money to house and feed these newly mad Caymanian criminals in Northward.

      While you are at it, kill and discard the 10,000 farm bred turtles that are there because CNS and WAP don’t want them released into the wild where they may return and mess up our tourist beaches with their unsightly nests over the next 20 years.

      While you are at it, make sure that Government has the $7million each year to pay the bank note on the development of the Turtle Centre.

      • Anonymous says:

        7mil < 10mil, so that's one of your arguments gone

      • Jotnar says:

        Put the turtle farm into liquidation – then the CIG wouldn’t have to pay the $7m a year.

        • Anonymous says:

          We (probably) would. Since CIG is (probably) the ultimate guarantor of the loans. Unless you think there’s a sucker, I mean investor, who would buy the Farm and take on its debt. – I don’t. So even if we sold/shut the Farm CIG still has to pay the loans.

    • Anonymous says:

      Better yet, redeploy even a fraction of that into things which improve our reputation, quality of life, and future prospects for all of those that call Cayman home.

  14. Mind Your Own Bussiness. says:

    Will these people go jump off a cliff.

    Look at whats happening in Syria, if you want to do something good. Go save the children.

    Leave us alone. We aint listening to your self entitled giberish. Worry about your back yard before you look into mine.

    • One Voice says:

      I agree .. a very high cliff in shallow waters . Leave us TO HELL ALONE. Turtles like Cows were put here on the EARTH for MAN to eat, case closed . have a Great Xmas and enjoy your Turtle meat. 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        Case closed. I love that phrase. God put people on earth to feed tigers, sharks and bacteria. Case closed! Happy Festivius, and enjoy your meat. Case closed

        • One Voice says:

          Well If you are fool enough to venture into their territory or play with these creatures … you deserved to be eaten . Case closed . Next

          • Anonymous says:

            We all eventually wander into bacteria’s territory. Case closed.
            (Gosh I love that expression)

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not Caymanian, visit a lot…but with all due respect WAP, this is not in your wheelhouse. Leave this one alone. There are WAY more issues you can dig at worldwide and enforce your will. But this one, leave it to the island. Sorry-
      Besides, there have been other points of controversy at the centre to be a thorn in the community.
      Don’t’ salt the wound with this..

  15. Anonymous says:

    WAP are an absolute bunch of idiots with nothing else to do but talk crap on the internet.

    I say, clean up your own backward of terrorists, homeless people, drug addiction, unemployment and corrupt politicians; before you try and cast blame on the Cayman Islands Turtle Centre in their local conservation efforts.

    If God appeared before the WAP, then would say something like…….”God you descended too fast from heaven and injured the birds that were flying below” !!


  16. Anonymous says:

    turtle farm sums up everything wrong with cayman.

  17. Anonymous says:

    cayman is backward.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Nothing we do will please them. All CTF and DOE has done to help revive the local wild population means nothing to them but everything to Caymanians.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Close the place down already and save the Cayman public purse the millions of dollars that are frittered away each year just to keep this disgusting farm open. You can change the name of the facility as often as you want but the facts and controversy will always remain so long as this vile place remains open.

    I’d be interested to learn how many of those polled and said they eat turtle meat work at the farm. I also wonder how big the back door policy is (the latter referring to those employees who sell off the meat cheap to friends and family).

  20. Anonymous says:

    I personally released yearling turtles about 30 years ago. Some from that batch are now nesting on our beaches. They have played an important part in the maintenance and growth of our wild population.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I wish Dr Neil D’Cruze and his dictators would just get off of our backs. I hope the Cayman Turtle Centre was able to produce turtles by the hundreds and get all of his dictators to come and witness the releases. Every nuisance from around the world is dipping into the affairs of these Cayman Islands. It is time for them to harass another nation.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why does WAP have such a hate for a tiny turtle farm on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere? Seriously, why don’t they focus on the beef and pork farms in their own country where the conditions are sure to be much much worse for the animals?

    Either way we don’t give a damn what you think WAP. We will continue our heritage of farming and consuming green sea turtles as well as releasing them into the wild. You can continue going on about this for the next 100 years, we still won’t give a sh!t what you think.

    • Nemo says:

      Because they can’t bully sea world, bush gardens and all the salmon farms.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because they are too wimpy to take on larger countries like Mexico who harves over 35,000 green turtles per year to eat……. from the wild, or the United states who ship over 4 million baby turtles to China for eating each year.

  23. Anonymous says:

    We need to stop wasting time with all of the “activists” and instead follow the policies that we see fit. Turtles have been released for many years without any contamination of the wild population. In fact because of the releases the wild population of turtles have increased.

    • Jotnar says:

      Whats your source for that statistic? Just what you believe, or some actual scientific data to support it?

      • Anonymous says:

        And what evidence does WAP have, that releasing turtles from Cayman Turtle Centre will harm the health of turtles born in the wild? Oh that’s right….NONE!

        • Anonymous says:

          WAP Logic – The Turtle Farm had a few years ago a large number of turtles get sick ad die, which they tried to cover up. The Farm has published neither health checks on the turtles they are now releasing, nor an explanation of what they are doing different so that their turtles aren’t still getting sick. Therefore the Farm has no way to say ‘our turtles aren’t carrying disease from the Farm to the wild’. Therefore WAP et al can say ‘the release may be contaminating the wild population’ and the Farm have no leg to stand on to save otherwise.

          If we want to get WAP off our back (and we should) shouting that they’re mean won’t do that. Showing that we’re better than they claim we are would. But that means that the Farm needs to step up and do it right – show the health checks that showed the turtles they released were disease-free. Why can’t they simply do that?

          • Anonymous says:

            They did and are doing it for every release since they started releasing again, hence the approval of DOE this time around. Go ahead and FOI the information if you want it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tags my friend, tags.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just what I have observed over a lifetime of diving in the Caymans. Many more turtles now that it was 40 years ago.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes. More hawksbill on the reefs we are diving. Too bad the Farm isn’t releasing hawksbills, so seeing more turtles while diving is a weak metric to gauge Farm success by.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anything to back up this brazen statement?

  24. Anonymous says:

    You cant win with this group. They will only be satisfied when the turtle farm is closed. The same farm that has been releasing and tracking turtles for years before their existence.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is none so arrogant as he who thinks he is intellectually superior. And when they can’t convince you with words they attempt to shame you into submission.

      Intolerant, insular and imperialist.

      WAP you are just another example of western hypocrisy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.