Centre releases 15 turtles at Barkers

| 26/02/2018 | 24 Comments
Cayman Turtle Centre, Cayman News Service

Green turtle (Photo courtesy Cayman Turtle Centre)

(CNS): The Cayman Turtle Centre (formerly the Cayman Turtle Farm) released 15 turtles in the sea at Barkers National Park in West Bay last week as part of its conservation efforts. Officials from the facility said the turtles will join the other 31,000 that have been released into the ocean since the programme began. Officials said the releases of the turtles had helped turn the tide on the declining numbers, with a recent study showing a tenfold increase in the numbers of nesting turtles in Cayman Waters between 1999 and 2015.

A Darwin Plus Initiative study has also shown that 54% of the turtles found around Cayman’s waters have DNA attributable to turtles that had been released from the Turtle Centre.

The release programme was cancelled in 2013 for three years because of concerns about disease and other husbandry issues at the farm that could endanger the wild population. In 2012 animal rights activists also documented the release of injured turtles.

The release programme resumed in 2016 as officials said they were satisfied that extensive testing and scientific data indicated that releasing the turtles would not pose a risk to wild turtles.

The farm said at the time that its self-imposed release ban had been put in place because it did not have a vigorous quarantine or health screening process in place. However, it is not clear how that has improved and what quarantine period or screening process the turtles now go through before release.

Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) Executive Director Tiffany Dixon Ebanks said that CITA was “excited to share the great news about the Cayman Turtle Centre’s first Turtle Release of 2018”.

She added, “It was certainly a magical occasion and we received great feedback from all. We are already looking forward to the next one and will keep our members, visitors and the Cayman Islands community posted on future releases.”

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (24)

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  1. Timothy Adam says:

    Unfortunately there are so many misperceptions in this article that several corrections really need to be addressed.

    First, a quick correction to the text of the Cayman Turtle Centre (CTC) press release, in regard to details of the percentage of CTC turtles in the wild population. The actual wording of the research study concluded as follows: “MINIMUM direct contribution of CTF to the wild was estimated at approx. 50%”.

    2nd, the article claimed that “In 2012 animal rights activists also documented the release of injured turtles.” Can CNS please be specific: which document supposedly verified that, and who authored the document?

    CNS: Here is a link to the CNS article published at the time: Conservationists says CTF released injured turtles

    3rd, can CNS please quote the actual wording of the release from CTC that CNS has now interpreted as saying that CTC “did not have a vigorous quarantine or health screening process in place”?

    CNS: The wording “did not have a vigorous quarantine or health screening process in place” refers to the the article published in 2013 and linked in this article (here is the link again). We are not saying in this article that vigorous quarantine or a health screening process is not in place now, we are pointing out that such improvements had not been fully explained. The brief explanation below is appreciated, and a fuller one would be even more appreciated.

    4th, so as to clear up the ambiguity in the article about “what quarantine period or screening process the turtles now go through before release”: There are two facilities in the Cayman Islands where endangered (CITES protected) reptiles that are native species are captive-bred, head-started, and released to the wild. One is the Cayman Turtle Centre – breeding, raising and releasing Green Sea Turtles. The other is the Blue Iguana Recovery Program (BIRP) at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park – breeding and releasing Blue iguanas. For every released turtle, the CTC follows (with full-time veterinary oversight) an enhanced version of the pre-release quarantine and health evaluation protocols that were already approved by the Department of Environment for Blue iguanas released from the BIRP, and on which basis in multiple years they declared that the Blue iguanas to be released had received a “clean bill of health”.

    Timothy Adam, Managing Director, Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Ltd.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love the fact we’re calling it a “Centre” now and not a farm! No slaughtering goes on at turtle centers right, Mr Adam??!,

  3. West bay Premier says:

    This is all good that the farm is doing a release program for the survival of turtles in the Cayman Islands waters . But education and enforcement of the program is lacking , until we can master those two aspects of the program the population of the turtle won’t be able to grow. As I seeing now it looks like the farm is doing it just to say that they are doing it , and the poachers are not getting the education of why the farm is doing the release program .

    I think that people are failing to understand that the area of water around the Islands is a very small area to be a good breeding ground for all marine species to survive and become abundance . While the human population has grown so big , we must understand that the area around the Islands has not . I believe that if we want to see that all marine species survive for future generations, we must help in making sure of it .

    • West bay Premier says:

      I have to further think that if we want to make sure that all marine species survive for future generations . We would need to have a big public discussion on the subject of and be prepared to make many sacrifices . But now is the time to do something about it before it’s all gone .

    • Anonymous says:

      Education in not polluting those waters would be good, not just for people here, but tourists too. I picked up a few plastic beakers out of the sea whilst swimming this morning, and could do that all day every day, and it would still not alter the problem. We need enforcement. Lots of it. The sea is our diamond and not looking after it and its inhabitants will kill our tourism industry,

      • Helen B says:

        This is true. Most of the floating garbage at Barker’s is coming from out at sea and from other countries though.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Of the 100s of eggs laid and collected at beaches all around Grand Cayman, the CTF only released 15?!? Why pretend to have any conservation mandate! For shame!

    • Kadafe says:

      When turtle eggs are collected they are hatched at the farm and raised for a few years before being released when they have a higher rate of survival than the little hatchlings, on their own it is estimated that only 1 in 1000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood. So for your “hundreds” of eggs collected, that seems pretty high does it not? No matter what ppl say about us and our turtles 31,000 turtles released is 31,000 turtles released, no small feat by any means. Govt funded yes, but a contribution to the survival of a species paid for and supported by the ppl of the Cayman Islands.Troll.

      • Jotnar says:

        15 seems pretty small in relation to 31000. That would be over 2000 releases. Either the number per release has gone way down or they have been doing this every week for 40 years. And it’s not the latter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congratulations!! Misinformed comment of the day goes to you!

    • Anonymous says:

      All of the 15 turtles released by the Turtle Centre were 18 months old and weighed over 20 lbs.
      The reason for this head starting for these turtles is because it greatly increases the survivability several 100 fold as they are of a size where they cannot be eaten by the usual predators.

      Perhaps someone from CTC will inform CNS and the public about their extensive testing and quarantine program that these turtles go through before being release into the wild.

      The scientific evidence is now available that proves that the turtle release program is directly responsible for 54% of all the breeder turtles in Cayman waters. A success by any measuring stick especially when it outperforms nature.

      NO, turtle eggs are collected from beaches anywhere in the Cayman Islands, the law dictates that no one can take eggs nor turtles from the wild.
      All eggs hatched in the wild on beaches are allowed to go straight into the sea once they are hatched. The survival ratio for turtles that are introduced into the wild as hatchlings is estimated to be 1 in one thousand while the survival for a head-started turtle is about 60% ( 600 in 1,000).

      Besides this there are many more conservation efforts being carried out by CTC including trans locating eggs to nests on the beach from eggs laid at CTC. and it is the only facility in the world where turtles can be studied by scientists at all age stages of their life.

      Your shame should be reserved for people who will not educate themselves about the importance of the conservation work the CTC performs every day and the poachers who continue to take turtles from the wild, NOT CTC.

    • Anonymous says:

      No one is collecting any eggs at the beaches all around Grand Cayman, unless they are a poacher! The turtles they release come from eggs that were laid, incubated and hatched at the turtle center you idiot.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmm, apparently only 1 in 1000 young turtles survive, so the meagre 31,000 will see 31 turtles reach maturity, (maybe).
      How about closing this dreadful place where humans exploit these beautiful creatures and open a fully operational Conservation facility that aims to return many thousands per year instead of a derisory few as now.
      This is a money pit that deserves nothing less than closure, it is a shameful waste that helps neither the turtles nor the local taxpayer who pay enormous sums to keep it afloat.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Turtle Farm does NOT collect eggs fro Cayman beaches. that would be poaching. And utterly pointless since its not wild hatch success rate that limits the number of turtles in Cayman.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope the feral cats don’t get em.

    (Eye rolling and sarcastic comment btw.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mmmmmmm, Tiny turtle sandwiches.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yummy, the young meat is tender.


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