Green turtle rescued from attempted poacher
The female green turtle that was rescued. Image source: Cayman Islands Department of the Environment
Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites. (WWF)
According to the first genetic study of the green turtle’s reintroduction program in the Atlantic Ocean, the reintroduction program for the Cayman Islands has been crucial in the race to recover the species. But there are instances in which the endangered animal is killed for food and harvested for eggs. In the Cayman Islands, poaching continues to be an issue.
Last week, a female green turtle was rescued from a poacher near West Bay Public Beach after a concerned member of the public called 9-1-1.
"She came up to the beach to attempt to make a nest when poachers tried to steal her," explains the DoE. The poachers had already left the location when the DoE conservation officers arrived to see the turtle on its back.
The DoE's conservation officers responded immediately and flipped the turtle over and directed her back to the sea. The conservation officers monitored the beach that night to ensure her protection if she returned to try to nest; however, with the trauma, they explained that she is likely to have chosen another location.
Under the Endangered Species Act, all green turtle populations are listed as either endangered or threatened. Green sea turtles are easily distinguished from other sea turtles because they have a single pair of prefrontal scales (scales in front of their eyes). It is estimated that there are between 85,000 and 90,000 nesting females left in the world.
The public can support turtle nesting by remaining at least 50 feet from any turtle. If you see or suspect poachers, please call DoE conservation officers at 916-4271 or 911. If you spot a turtle on land, call the Turtle hotline at 938-NEST or 938-6378.