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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 212, 11th December 2015

1. The USA: Cincinnati customs officials find shipments of turtle shells, dead king cobra snakes
SOURCE: wlwt.com – DATE: 5th December 2015

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati (Ohio, the USA) intercepted illegal importations of Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) shells and dead King Cobra Snakes (Ophiophagus hannah).

Officers discovered two shipments containing a total of 631 sea turtle scutes, which are part of a turtle's shell. Smugglers had sanded the scutes clean of barnacles and covered them with a white, water-soluble paint in an attempt to disguise their identity. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wildlife inspectors estimate that the scutes were the remains of at least 29 large, mature sea turtles between 60 to 75 years old. Officials estimate it will take decades for hawksbill turtles to recover from the loss of this many of its population.

In a separate shipment, king cobras were found wrapped in socks and concealed within baskets, officials said. Although the snakes were dead upon arrival into the United States, it is suspected they were sent live for breeding purposes and perished in transit.

Link to this web article online (English)

sea turtle shell

© wlwt.com

Galapagos tortoise© J. B. Little

2. Can Extinct Giant Tortoises Be Brought Back to Life?
SOURCE: news.nationalgeographic.com – DATE: 8th December 2015

Scientists scrambled across lava-covered slopes on the Galápagos Islands to try to resurrect Lonesome George and another extinct species. Here's how they're planning to bring the giant tortoises back.

The expedition - "one of the most ambitious species recovery efforts ever undertaken in the world" - has heightened the possibility of recovering the genetic legacies of the two extinct tortoises [Pinta Tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) and Floreana Tortoise(Chelonoidis nigra)], says Washington "Wacho" Tapia, a Galápagos native and director of the giant tortoise restoration initiative at the nonprofit Galápagos Conservancy.

Over ten days in late November, scientists and rangers from Galápagos National Park combed the rugged slopes of Wolf Volcano, collecting at least two animals whose ancestors had been Pinta tortoises like Lonesome George. The hope is that these tortoises, now housed at the national park's headquarters, can be bred to produce hybrid tortoises that are close genetic matches of the ones that once roamed Pinta Island.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. The USA: Feds: Sea turtle egg smugglers captured
SOURCE: 10news.com – DATE: 9th December 2015

On the 8th of December, a man and a woman from Hemet were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the smuggling of 911 sea turtle eggs into the United States from Mexico. The defendants moved the sea turtle eggs from the large cooler to the two small coolers, concealing them under layers of ice, fish and shrimp. The defendants allegedly gave the coolers to the owner of a pickup truck to bring to the US.

 The eggs were from two sea turtle species -- Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii).  Both of them were initially identified as endangered under US law. As the U.S. and Mexico are signers to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, it is illegal in both nations to trade in those species or any part of them, including their eggs

The pair of alleged smugglers faces numerous federal charges, which might be maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine due to current regulations.

Link to this web article online (English)

smuggling turtle eggs

© 10news.com

4. Costa Rica: Agonising moment a rescue worker pulls a plastic fork from a turtle's nose - just months after discovering another one with a straw jammed in its nostril
SOURCE: dailymail.co.uk – DATE: 10th December 2015

Animal rescue experts found an Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) shuffling along a beach in Costa Rica, Central America, and went about removing the fork, which was jammed in its nostril. The incident came just months after the same volunteers had to remove a plastic straw from the nose of another sea turtle and has prompted renewed pleas for holidaymakers to avoid leaving debris on beaches.

The fork was quickly and safely removes from the turtle before she was released to the ocean. This fork, like the straw, was probably eaten by the turtle. When she tried to regurgitate it, the fork did not pass out of her mouth but went out her nose. It’s estimated that countless other animals were being harmed by plastic debris in our oceans. Therefore the experts’ team’s efforts are to encourage people to 'say no to all single-use plastic and try to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic products.

Link to this web article online (English)

© dailymail.co.uk

© S. Williamson

flat back sea turtle© R. Riga

5. Australia: Queensland scientists hope satellite tracker will unlock mysteries of Australia's flatback turtle
SOURCE: abc.net.au - DATE: 11th December 2015

A rare turtle in Queensland's Wide Bay region will be monitored with a satellite-tracking device by scientists looking to learn more about its breeding longevity.

The Flatback turtle (Natator depressus), known by her tag number X23103, has been visiting Mon Repos Beach near Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia since the late 1970s and is estimated to be at least 60-years-old. On Thursday, scientists from the Department of Science and Heritage Protection strapped a satellite tracker to her shell to monitor her over the next four to five months. The device is fitted with a GPS and radio transmitter that will send information to polar orbiting satellites each time the turtle comes to the surface to take a breath. Temperature and water depth sensors will also be used to track her migratory journey to feeding habitats. Chief scientist Dr Col Limpus said the research should reveal crucial information about the turtle's long-term breeding cycle.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

 

 
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