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No. 115, 17th January 2014

1. Indonesia: Smuggled in suitcases 8,000 pig-nosed turtles rescued in Indonesia

DATE: 10th January, 2013

On the 10th of January, 2013, officials at Jakarta's main airport discovered nearly 3,000 turtles in four suitcases after being told to be on the lookout for turtle smuggling. The day before officials in Papua New Guinea found a cache of about 5,400 of the turtles hidden in seven suitcases . The suitcases contained plastic boxes, each containing 15-20 turtles. All of the living turtles were collected and will be released back into their natural habitat in Papua   . At least 14 of the turtles were dead when officials found them. The pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta) is classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , which reports that the species is only found in Papua New Guinea, northern Australia and Indonesia's Papua region. Smuggling turtles out of Indonesia carries a penalty of as many as 3 years in prison and fines of up to 150 million rupiah (about $12,300). However, the payoff for a successful smuggling operation may be too tempting for some to pass by. A 15- centimetre specimen can sell for $20 and juvenile and adult pig-nosed turtles can fetch between $500 and $2,000.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© via Flickr user wilth

2. Florida, USA: 6 blind, endangered sea turtles treated at Pinecrest Veterinary Hospital

DATE: 16th January, 2014

Six endangered green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) received potentially life-saving treatment in Pinecrest veterinary hospital in Miami, USA on the 16th of January. The turtles are all blind – they have Fibropapilloma virus in both of their eyes that does not allow them to see, making chances of survival in the wild impossible. At least three of the turtles received surgery to remove part of their corneas in the hopes of leaving them with some vision. One other turtle named Hook, who has been receiving anti-cancer eye drops, was evaluated for progress. Two others, who are in different stages of care, were also evaluated. According to Zirckelbach, the Fibropapilloma virus is a herpes type of virus that affects more than 50 percent of the green sea turtle population in and around the Florida Keys. If treatment is unsuccessful, the turtles have to be euthanized. But if a turtle is tumour free for at least a year, it can be released back into the ocean. Zirckelbach said the hospital has already scheduled releases in January and February for turtles that were successfully treated last year.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

© AP Photo-Florida Keys News Bureau-Andy Newman

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