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No. 122, 14th March 2014

1. Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam: Successful rescue and release marine turtles back to the ocean

DATE: 9th March 2014

According to Thua Thien Hue province's Department of Exploitation and Protection of Marine Sources a Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) was rescued and released on the 9th of March. ( ATP NOTE: the photographs with this article are a Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) so the animal might have been misidentified if photographs are of the actual animal.)

The turtle was found on the 7th of March at 11:00 am in Con Te, Thuan Hoa village, Huong Phong district, Huong Tra province, by fishermen Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nghet and Mr. Phạm Ai while it was on the beach (ATP NOTE: it was likely coming up to nest). Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh Binh - Director of the Department of Exploitation and Protection of Marine Sources identified the turtle as a Hawksbill sea turtle, weighing 24kg and measuring 75cm in length and 40cm in width. When the turtle was found it seemed to be in good health, except for some scratches on its left leg. Although many people offered a lot of money to buy the turtle Mr. Ai refused and in the evening of the 7th of March local authorities and staff of the Department of Exploitation and Protection of Marine Sources released the turtle back to the sea.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Phuong Nam

2. Saint Helena, South Atlantic Ocean: St Helena's 182-year-old giant tortoise

DATE: 12th March 2014

Our world is full of weird and wonderful creatures, many of which amaze scientists and non-scientists, alike. But is it true that a living tortoise could have started its life in the first half of the 19th Century?
Meet Jonathan, a 182-year-old Seychelles giant tortoise (Dipsochelys hololissa) that lives on the island of Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. After a recent visit from the BBC News Magazine crew, the giant tortoise seemed young and spry and happy for rejuvenated press attention, as he may die literally any day now.
Joe Hollis, the sole vet on St. Helena Island told the BBC: "He is virtually blind from cataracts, has no sense of smell - but his hearing is good." Blindness made it hard for Jonathan to find the right vegetation, and due to malnutrition Jonathan's beak became blunt and soft, adding to his problems finding food. Now there's a new feeding regime, in place where Joe delivers a bucket of fresh fruit and vegetables every Sunday morning.
Mysteriously, no one really knows why or how Jonathan ended up on the island of Saint Helena as his species hails from the Seychelles. During the 17th Century ships could contain hundreds of easily-stacked tortoises, like a fast-food takeaway. In the Galapagos islands alone around 200,000 tortoises are thought to have been killed and eaten at this time. Thirty-three governors have come and gone since then, and nobody wants Jonathan to die on their watch. Mr Capes, Governor of the British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic, is certainly keen "that he should be treated with the respect, attention and care he surely deserves". When he goes, Jonathan will be mourned by friends and admirers on St Helena and around the world.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)



3. Gosport, Hampshire, United Kingdom: New wheels bring tortoise out of its shell

DATE: 7th March 2014

Septimus, a marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) has come out of its shell after vets fitted model aeroplane wheels to replace his front legs. Speedy Septimus is now enjoying life in the fast lane following the life-saving operation. The tortoise was attacked by rodents as he hibernated underground in the garden of owner Darren Strand in Gosport, Hampshire. When the 23-year-old pet emerged his legs were infested with maggots and vets told Mr Strand that Septimus would either have to have his legs amputated and tiny wheels attached in their place, or be put to sleep. The property developer and daughters Tabbie, 13, and Fran, 9, decided to press ahead with the surgery. Mr Strand said: "He got the hang of moving in it very quickly, although to begin with he was very weak. Now he can turn himself around and go backwards, something he couldn't do before. He's a very spritely little character and very sociable."

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)


4. Weymouth, England: 'Stolen' tortoise found in Dorset owner's back garden after going underground

DATE: 11th March 2014

A pet tortoise (unknown species) which police thought had been stolen in the autumn was found to be hibernating in her owners' garden. Dorset Police issued an appeal for information about Tucker, aged about 70 and believed to be worth about £300 (~$500) when she was believed to have been taken from a greenhouse at a house in Weymouth. Her owners were said to have been "devastated by the loss". Police said: "She may have gone underground into hibernation and has reappeared ready for warmer weather."

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

© Matt Scott-Joynt, M & Y News


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