Two hawksbill turtles returned to sea Ends
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
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.