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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 132, 23rd May 2014



1. International: It's World Turtle Day!

SOURCE: American Tortoise Rescue (ATR)
DATE: 23rd May 2014

American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organisation established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring its 14th annual World Turtle Day™ on May 23rd. The day was created as an observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. “We launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the world ' s oldest creatures, ”said Susan Tellem, one of the ATR founders. “These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild thanks to the pet trade, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.” Tellem added, “We are thrilled to learn that organisations and individuals throughout the world now are observing World Turtle Day, including those in Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.”

Link to this web article online (English)



© ATP




2. Warmer temperatures could lead to single sex population of sea turtles

SOURCE: dailymail.co.uk
DATE: 19th May 2014

A study on the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Atlantic has revealed some worrying, long-term trends into sea turtle populations as males die-off and females take over. But the paper also revealed that in the short term, the animal will be better off as the higher ratio in female births boosts natural population growth. It has been known for decades that reptile reproduction is highly sensitive to temperature, with the ratio of male to female offspring varying. For species of sea turtles, the pivotal temperature change is 29 degrees beyond which female populations begin to dominate. If incubation temperatures consistently climb above 30.5 degrees than the sea turtle could eventually become a single-sex organism. Anything above 33 degrees than the turtle embryos will not survive at all. The study revealed a strong relationship between the colour of a beach, incubation temperature and hatchling sex ratios. Because light coloured sandy beaches reflect more heat (a phenomenon known as sand albedo) they produce an estimated 70 per cent female hatchlings. Dark-coloured beaches produce more than 93 per cent females. Declining populations, linked to warming, have already been seen among populations of the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the Carribean and the study revealed that these populations are now at less than one per cent of their original numbers. Rising sea levels could have a negative effect on turtle populations. The results and the decline in the Green sea turtle is enough evidence for conservationists to begin prioritising the protection of beaches from warming.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)



© Gail Schofield


3. Australia: New smartphone app could help save Australian turtles

SOURCE: petergreenberg.com
DATE: 23rd May 2014

On World Turtle Day, scientists have unveiled a new app that could enable smartphone users to help save Australia's dwindling turtle population. TurtleSAT – Turtle Survey and Analysis Tools - is a free app designed to track turtle activity. By dropping a pin on a map when they spot a turtle, smartphone users can contribute data to what scientists say will be Australia's biggest study of freshwater turtles. One of the app's creators, University of Western Sydney zoologist Ricky Spencer, hopes the app will be widely used. "If we have thousands of people using it, we can really get an idea of hotspots," he said. "We can get a real picture across Australia of where turtles are being killed on roads or by foxes, and we can start managing them correctly." Dr Spencer said the app could help protect Australia's turtle population. "There is a turtle crisis happening at the moment, with declines of over 90 per cent in parts of the Murray River," he said. TurtleSAT can be downloaded for smart phones and tablets. Those without smartphones can also contribute to the study by logging turtle sightings at TurtleSAT.org.au.

ATP NOTE: A potential risk of apps like this is that poachers could potentially also make use of them (see “ Poachers Use Tourists ' Geotagged Safari Photos to Find Endangered Animals ” in ATP Bulletin No 131). In some regions of the world hunting and collection has been a major cause of decline in many species of tortoise and freshwater turtle and care should be taken when considering development of such apps as it may lead hunters to critical populations. With less demand and strong enforcement in Australia we hope this data will provide a useful research tool.

Link to this web article online (English)






© AAP



4. Sri Lanka: Crowdfunding for turtle conservation

SOURCE: travelweekly.com.au
DATE: 20th May 2014

World Turtle Day is coming up on the 23rd of May 2014, and with turtle conservation relying heavily on private donations and volunteer work Templeberg Villa is doing its bit to help out. The Australian-owned villa in Galle city, will be promoting a crowdfunding project to support the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation (KTSC) project in Sri Lanka. The project is currently trying to raise $5000 to improve the education facility, improve turtle habitat, build up breeding programs and provide supplies to turtle hatcheries of Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation (KTSC), which house up to 700 baby turtles. With five of the seven species of turtles in the world living in Sri Lanka this is an important cause. The unique collaboration between the Sri Lankan villa and the turtle conservation program is the first project of its kind. The project is also being run in association with Wildlife Volunteer Crowdfunding, which helps organisations like Templeberg Villa raise money for critically needed environmental projects.

Link to this web article online (English)

 


5. Zhejiang Province, China: Fisherman Shows Mercy For Aged 150-Year-Old Turtle

SOURCE: Austrian Times
DATE: 19th May 2014

A Chinese fisherman could have made a tidy sum selling a whopping 200 lb (91kg) turtle to local restaurants. But Cai Tu, 45, was so overawed by the size of the turtle that he decided to release him to swim free again in the ocean. He said: "My dad who was a fisherman taught me you can tell their age from the shell, and based on that I estimated the turtle was over 100-years-old." Tu's act of animal kindness was not understood by most of his fellow villagers in Menyuwei on Nanji Island. They branded him a fool for letting such a valuable treat get away. He could have earned the equivalent of approximately $850 - two months wages - for the whopper he nicknamed The Hulk. But he added: "It was obviously very old and I figured it had earned its right to enjoy the rest of its days in the deep. ”

Link to this web article online (English)



© travelweekly.com.au



© europics.at


6. Chennai City, Tamil Nadu State, India: Over 8,000 turtle hatchlings released

SOURCE: American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) – DATE: 23rd May 2014

In a rare and massive exercise, the Chennai wildlife team, which collected close to 10,000 Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) eggs along the Marina coast, has successfully released 8,834 hatchlings in a phased manner. On the eve of World Turtle Day the foresters reviewed the hatching rate and the mortality rate of the young ones that were released into the sea between Neelangarai and Marina beach. “After 25 years, more than 10,000 turtle eggs have been collected by the Chennai wildlife staff along the Marina coastline and close to 90 per cent of eggs have hatched and we are hopeful that these endangered species will visit the Chennai coast as adults,” said Velachery ranger S David Raj. “The forest department had envisaged a special conservation programme since last year to protect the Olive Ridleys that nest in Chennai. The city is one of the largest nesting grounds for the marine turtles, after the Odisha coast, and we have also intensified programmes for fishermen, advising them to use turtle excluder nets”, said Geethanjali, wildlife warden, Chennai. Meanwhile, similar drives were conducted in other coastal districts, including Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam districts. “The turtle plays a key role in the marine environment and groups were formed in the coastal villages of Kanyakumari to collect eggs. The team spotted nests and about 950 eggs were collected and hatchlings released near the Rajakamangalam coastal village,” said S. S. Davidson, a naturalist and conservationist.

Link to this web article online (English)



© DC



7. Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra state, India : UN panel nod for project to track marine turtles' migratory patterns

SOURCE: skift.com
DATE: 20th May 2014

Where do marine turtle hatchlings spend the rest of their lives on leaving the Ratnagiri beaches (Ratnagiri district , Maharashtra state, India)? The mystery of the little-known life cycle of these marine Cetaceans will soon be unravelled with the recent approval on the satellite tagging of marine turtles. The steering committee of the GOI-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project on ‘mainstreaming coastal and marine biodiversity into production sectors in Sindhudurg coast' had met in Mumbai last week. The committee has approved a Rs 30.45-lakh ($51,810.12) proposal of the Wildlife Institute of India to track turtles in the ocean by attaching a Platform Terminal Transmitter to the backs of around 10 turtles. This study will provide insights into the turtles' migratory patterns and routes, their behaviour at sea, where their marine habitats are located and how turtles use the different habitats. Four species — Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) — are found in Maharashtra. From the 118 sandy beaches surveyed across Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts in 2010, 13 beaches were found to have considerable nesting. Around 818 nests were recorded between November 2002 and May 2012 and around 33,080 hatchlings were released into the sea.

Link to this web article online (English)


 


8. China: Voluntourism Spotlight: Help Sea Turtles on Hainan Island

SOURCE: petergreenberg.com
DATE: 21st May 2014

Sea Turtles 911 is an organisation based in Hainan Island, China that was founded in 2008. The non-profit organisation strives to revive turtle populations in the South China Sea. Their efforts include rescuing illegally captured turtles, rehabilitating injured turtles, raising hatchlings poached from distant islands (in their very own sea turtle nursery), and releasing turtles back into their natural habitat to help give them a fighting chance at survival. They focus on stopping restaurants and fishermen from selling sea turtles, as well as lowering the demand by convincing people to stop purchasing sea turtle products.
If you are traveling in Southeast Asia, Sea Turtles 911 has an amazing program for volunteers, offering both short and long-term options for travellers. They have a sea turtle hospital located in a floating fishing village just outside the city of Sanya. It is easily accessible from all major mainland Chinese airports.

Volunteers are given the opportunity to work in one or many areas including feeding the turtles, cleaning nets, and assisting in medical treatments. Volunteers will also be able to work with locals in community outreach and education programs that work to build awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation. Interacting with locals on a grassroots level is a rare experience to encounter on the island unless you speak Chinese, so it ' s definitely something to take advantage of.

Link to this web article online (English)




© Express Archive


© petergreenberg.com


9. Palawan province, Philippines: Chinese fishermen plead not guilty to Philippine poaching charges

Follow-up ATP Bulletin No 130

SOURCE: scmp.com; interaksyon.com
DATE: May 2014

Nine Chinese fishermen pleaded not guilty before an environmental court in the Philippines after they were caught with hundreds of marine turtles in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea. If convicted of poaching a protected species, the men face prison terms of 12 to 20 years. They were granted bail of 70,000 pesos ($1,600) each.
A court-appointed lawyer entered not guilty pleas for the men in a Puerto Princesa city court on Palawan Island in the west Philippine archipelago. A pre-trial hearing was set for the 4th of June. An online petition started by noted environmentalists calling for the prosecution of Chinese fishermen has gained ground, gathering nearly 7,000 signatures. The Change.org petition created by lawyer Antonio Oposa and Anna Oposa also urges President Benigno Aquino III, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police to be strong in the face of undue pressure from China, which has demanded the release of the poachers, claiming they were captured within its territory. A group of 15 civil society organisations called for the application of the full force of the law on the poaching. The environmental advocates added that there should be no backdoor negotiations or any diplomatic solutions with China.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)


Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (English)





© DC

 
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