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No. 274, 17th February 2017

1. Australia: Sydney Harbour hidden plastic pollution is killing endangered turtles and marine life
SOURCE: – DATE: 12th February 2017

Teenage turtles like Cliff are lucky to be rescued, because many are dying after eating hidden plastic pollution in Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River when they come in summer to feed on seagrass meadows.

The turtle was found at Clifton Gardens on the north shore on the 28th of December 2016. It could not swim or feed because it had ingested plastic.

Link to this web article online (English)

sea turtle

© N. Chettle

Indian roofed turtle

© A. Weerawong


2. The USA: Queens Man Admits Smuggling Endangered Turtles in Packages Marked ‘Snacks’
SOURCE: – DATE: 13th February 2017

In May, officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service made an unusual discovery at the international mail facility at Kennedy Airport: dozens of federally protected turtles being smuggled into the country, hidden under bags of candy and noodles arrived from Hong Kong. The turtles included 10 Indian Roofed Turtles (Pangshura tecta), four Chinese Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum), 37 yellow-margined Chinese Box Turtles (Cuora flavomarginata) and 12 Black-breasted Turtles (Geoemyda spengleri).

On Monday, Hsien Lin Hsu, 46, of Queens (New York, the USA), pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Brooklyn to trafficking in the protected turtles in violation of the Endangered Species Act and an international wildlife treaty. He faces up to 21 months in prison; no sentencing date was set.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. The Bahamas: Extinct tortoise yields oldest tropical DNA
SOURCE: – DATE: 13th February 2017

An extinct tortoise species that accidentally tumbled into a water-filled limestone sinkhole in the Bahamas about 1,000 years ago has finally made its way out, with much of its DNA intact.

As the first sample of ancient DNA retrieved from an extinct tropical species, this genetic material could help provide insights into the history of the Caribbean tropics and the reptiles that dominated them, said University of Florida ornithologist David Steadman. It could also offer clues to the region's future, as the tropics undergo significant transformation due to climate change.

Link to this web article online (English)


Extinct tortoise


Lonesome George

© D. Ochoa

4. Ecuador: Remains of Tortoise Lonesome George returning to Ecuador India: Turtle smugglers facing the heat
SOURCE: – DATE: 15th February 2017

Lonesome George is returning to the Galapagos Islands, where his longevity as the last of his giant tortoise species (Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii) and fruitless attempts to find him a mate made him a local legend. George died at age 90 from natural causes in 2012. His remains were sent to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was embalmed and exhibited. Now he's being brought back to Ecuador and will be put in a special display on Santa Cruz island for public viewing starting the 23rd of February 2017.

Link to this web article online (English)

5. Mystery of how the turtle's neck evolved may be solved by 150m-year-old fossil
SOURCE: – DATE: 16th February 2017

Examination of a fossilised turtle suggests the way modern animals withdraw both head and neck into their shells might be linked to capturing prey

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the trio of researchers from Switzerland, Thailand and France, explain how they drew their conclusions by studying the fossil of a turtle from the Late Jurassic, known as Platychelys oberndorferi, that was discovered in Switzerland in the 19th century, but whose vertebrae had not been thoroughly examined before.

Link to this web article online (English)

fossil turtle

© P. Roeschli

turtle confiscated in India

© Special correspondent

6. India: Wildlife Bureau has seized over 15,000 turtles and arrested over 30 smugglers
SOURCE: - DATE: 17th February 2017

In what is considered to be a major seizure, India's Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal police in coordination with central agencies such as the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau have seized over 15,000 turtles and arrested over 30 smugglers between the last week of December 2016 and January 2017. The largest single case involved 6,430 Indian Flapshelled Turtles (Lissemys punctata).

ATP Note: The shocking numbers highlight the massive extent of the trade that still continues throughout the region despite legal protection.

Link to this web article online (English)


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