99 Artificially Hatched Sea Turtles ┬áReleased From Huizhou Turtle Reserve

According to the ChinaPlus website, China released its first batch of artificially-bred sea turtles near Huizhou in Guangdong province. 99 sea turtles in total have returned to the sea.

The National Huizhou Sea Turtle Reserve is about 80 kilometers east of Shenzhen and has a 1-kilometer-long beach. It was established in 1985, and has since witnessed a drop in the number of laying sea turtles – from more than 100 yearly in the 1980s to single digits now.

According to the China Daily, only a few sea turtles have laid eggs in recent years and there haven’y been anyone the first 9 months of 2016. 

The reserve in Huizhou is the only known active laying ground remaining for sea turtles along the 18,000-kilometer coastline of the Chinese mainland, excluding Hong Kong.
The reserve hatches the eggs, nurtures the hatchlings, saves wounded turtles and raises public awareness through exhibitions about wildlife conservation.

Sea turtles take 20 or even 50 years to reach puberty, so it may take a while before an increase is seen.

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Update on Sea Turtle Poachers Seizure by Philippines 8th May 2014

Philippine police seized a Chinese fishing vessel and detained its 11 crew members in South China Sea waters, claimed by both countries, in the latest escalation of their bitter maritime row.
National police spokesman Reuben Sindac said yesterday the 15-tonne boat was intercepted while fishing off Half Moon Shoal, west of Palawan, in what he said are Philippine waters.

The crew will be further charged with violating anti-poaching laws after a huge haul of 500 turtles was found on board, Sindac added.

But Beijing angrily responded that it has “undisputable sovereignty” over the Half Moon Shoal, which it calls the Ban Yue Reef, and urged the Philippines to “stop taking further provocative action.”

“Relevant authorities from China have arrived at the scene,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. “We ask the Philippines side to give their explanation and deal with this case properly,” Hua added.

“We ask the Philippines side to release the vessel and the crew.”

Lying around 111 kilometers west of Palawan, the shoal is located on the eastern edge of the Spratlys and is believed to harbor vast oil and gas resources.

Sindac said the vessel was intercepted along with a Filipino-manned fishing boat that also had a catch of around 40 protected turtles.

Half of the turtles aboard the two boats were already dead.

The Filipino fishermen were also detained.

It was not clear whether the two boats were working together when they were caught.

Source: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 8/5/2014

500 turtles seized on a Chinese vessel by Philippines in the South China Sea

According to BBC News (7/5/2014) Philippine police have seized a Chinese fishing boat carrying 500 endangered sea turtles near the disputed Spratly islands in South China Sea. Its 11 crew
Members were detained.
China’s Xinhua state news agency said the fishing boat – named as Qiongqionghai 09063 – had been seized.
Sunstar reports that the Chinese vessel was carrying 120 live turtles and 234 dead turtles.
Hong Kong has recorded instances of Green sea turtles, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley and Leatherback sea turtles (AFCD). Of these the endangered Green Sea turtle is known to breed in Hong Kong. Sea turtles have very long migration routes, so the turtles seized near the Spratlys could be on their way to nesting sites in Malaysia, gain an, Hong Kong or anywhere in the Pacific.
If you are interested in sea turtle conservation in China, Sea Turtles 911 has a good website with information and volunteering opportunities.

Whale Shark at Sham Wan update

A whale shark Rhincodon typus was spotted at Sham Wan on Lamma Island on 27th of June 2012

The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow, filter feeding shark that is the largest living fish species in the world. It feeds on small shrimps, fish and plankton. The shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea. The species poses no danger to humans.

This video clip was made by a member of the public and posted on Youtube. I take no responsibility or credit for the content of this clip. You can see that the shark is struggling in the rocky shallow water just off the beach (ca. 5 to 10 meters by my estimate). Eventually it makes its way back to sea. Reports suggested that it may have been spotted again off Deep Water Bay on the 3rd of July, but could not be confirmed. Whale sharks are found in tropical waters world-wide, so its presence in Hong Kong is not surprising. In fact, on the 6th of June 2008 at about 2pm a trawler caught a 5m whale shark and after identification by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department in at the pier off the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market it was released back at to the waters of Round Island around 4.30pm (see AFCD press release linked here). Tragically it died and ended up in a landfill (WWF HK statement).

Given how much sharks fin is traded and eaten in Hong Kong its more surprising that the shark got away without being caught, mutilated and sold for sharks-fin soup. What is really interesting is that this beach is not just a turtle breeding spot with AFCD protection and a beautiful scenic spot thanks to the regular clean-ups done as part of the turtle protection, but it also has some nice hard coral areas in some places and now a whale shark! I think it should be declared a Marine Park. Who is with me?

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.