Rescued Green Turtle Returned to the Sea

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) released an adult female green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the eastern waters of Hong Kong today (January 28, 2013).

On December 14, 2012, the AFCD received a report from a fisherman that a green turtle had been accidentally caught in a fishing net in the waters off Tai Po. The fisherman rescued the turtle and informed the AFCD, who collected it the same day.

Following an initial check-up by the AFCD, the turtle was taken to Ocean Park (OPHK) for a thorough veterinary assessment and was ascertained to be in good condition. Since then, it has been well looked after at OPHK with constant monitoring and veterinary care.

After a period of recovery, the turtle weighed 60kg and its shell was 84cm in length. Its good condition suggested it was ready to be returned to sea.

Before returning it to the sea, the AFCD tagged the turtle with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification, and attached a satellite transmitter to its back. Green turtles are remarkable for their migratory behaviour. By tracing their oceanic movements and locating their feeding grounds, the AFCD can collect data and share the findings with various conservation authorities, thus playing a part in the conservation of this endangered species.

The AFCD is very thankful to the fisherman who rescued the turtle and the veterinarians and aquarium staff of OPHK for their efforts in taking care of it. Members of the public are urged to report any sighting or stranding of sea turtles to the department via 1823 to help protect them. The AFCD will continue its efforts in sea turtle conservation through ecological monitoring, habitat management and educational activities.

In Hong Kong, all sea turtle species are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586). The green turtle is one of five sea turtle species found in Hong Kong waters and to date is the only species known to breed locally. Green turtles are known for their loyalty to feeding sites and nesting grounds, which are generally their natal beaches. Sham Wan on Lamma Island is Hong Kong’s only known primary nesting site for green turtles, and has consequently has been designated as a restricted area during the nesting period, which lasts from June to October each year. Those without permits will not be allowed to enter the area.

In the summer of 2012, the AFCD recorded that a green turtle laid five clutches of eggs at Sham Wan, numbering over 550 eggs in total. The same turtle also nested in Hong Kong in 2003 and 2008 before returning to its feeding ground in Vietnam. From mid-August to December, 2012, the AFCD conducted regular patrols to protect and monitor the green turtle nests through the natural incubation period, which lasts for 50 to 80 days.

Unfortunately, no sign of hatchlings was observed during the 2012 incubation period at Sham Wan. One of the possible reasons for the unsuccessful hatching is that the eggs were unfertilised. According to the nesting turtle’s satellite telemetry results, it resided in the waters around Lamma during the inter-nesting period. After laying the last clutch of eggs in October, it left Hong Kong waters. The telemetry signals showed that it headed towards its feeding ground.

Before returning it to the sea, the AFCD tagged the turtle with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification, and attached a satellite transmitter to its back. Green turtles are remarkable for their migratory behaviour. By tracing their oceanic movements and locating their feeding grounds, the AFCD can collect data and share the findings with various conservation authorities, thus playing a part in the conservation of this endangered species.
Before returning it to the sea, the AFCD tagged the turtle with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification, and attached a satellite transmitter to its back. Green turtles are remarkable for their migratory behaviour. By tracing their oceanic movements and locating their feeding grounds, the AFCD can collect data and share the findings with various conservation authorities, thus playing a part in the conservation of this endangered species.
The green turtle has been well looked after at Ocean Park with constant monitoring and veterinary care. After a period of recovery, the turtle weighed 60kg and its shell was 84cm in length. Its good condition suggested it was ready to be returned to sea.
The green turtle has been well looked after at Ocean Park with constant monitoring and veterinary care. After a period of recovery, the turtle weighed 60kg and its shell was 84cm in length. Its good condition suggested it was ready to be returned to sea.

 

Advertisements

Two hawksbill turtles returned to sea

Press Release from Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from the AFCD Website (click here for original)

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) today (June 27) released two sub-adult hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the southern waters of Hong Kong. They were handed in to the AFCD in October 2010 and May 2012.

After initial assessment by the AFCD, the turtles were delivered to Hong Kong Ocean Park (Ocean Park) for appropriate veterinary treatment, where they have since been kept with constant monitoring and veterinary care. Ocean Park staff hand-fed the hawksbill turtles with squid, shrimp and fish, which form part of their natural diet.

“The first hawksbill turtle was found underweight and had abrasions on the carapace when it first arrived at Ocean Park in 2010. When the second turtle arrived in 2012, foreign objects such as zip ties and straws were found in its stool. It also showed signs of strained and stressed muscles. However, the turtles showed great improvement in their health and behaviour, and recovered well under our team’s close observation and intensive veterinary care,” the Chief Veterinarian of Ocean Park, Dr Paolo Martelli said.

During rehabilitation, the two turtles exhibited considerable growth in size and improvement in activity, and were finally deemed physically fit for release to the wild. They currently measure approximately 57 cm and 49 cm in carapace length and weigh about 15kg and 10kg respectively.


Before the turtles were released into the sea, the AFCD inserted microchips and metal tags with unique codes on their flippers for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to their carapaces. By tracing the oceanic movement and feeding grounds of hawksbill turtles, the AFCD can formulate appropriate protection measures and seek co-operation with relevant authorities to better conserve this critically-endangered species.

The AFCD is very thankful to the veterinarians and staff of Ocean Park for their assistance and efforts in taking care of the turtles, and will continue to work with Ocean Park in handling such cases.

In Hong Kong, all sea turtle species are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586). Of the five species of sea turtles that can be found in local waters, hawksbills are the rarest. Hawksbill turtles are renowned for their strong bird-like beak and beautiful honey-marble carapace.

Members of the public are urged to report any sighting or stranding of sea turtles to the department via the 1823 Call Centre to help protect them. The AFCD will continue to promote public engagement in sea turtle conservation through educational materials and activities.