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No. 83, 7th June 2013

1. Costa Rica: Costa Rica poachers ‘kill turtle activist'

DATE: 1st June 2013

At around 6 a.m. on Friday the 31st of May, the body of 26-year-old Jairo Mora Sandoval, a young Costa Rican conservationist who monitored and protected Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) nests, was found on Moín Beach, on the northern Caribbean coast. Mr. Mora worked for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) at Moín monitoring sea turtle nesting beaches, said WIDECAST's Costa Rica Coordinator Didiher Chacón.
According to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), Mora had been badly beaten and shot in the head, and his hands were tied behind his back. The OIJ released conflicting statements saying that Mora's body was found both next to and inside the Jeep he used to monitor the beach.
On the 23rd of April, Mora posted a call for help to authorities on his Facebook page after a night of poaching raids. “Send messages to the police so they come to Moín beach.. tell them not to be afraid but to come armed… 60 turtles lost and there wasn't even a single nest… we need help and fast,” Mora wrote.

According to a press release from the OIJ, Mora was on patrol Thursday night along with four foreign volunteers. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Mora stepped out of the car to move a tree trunk from the road and was grabbed by at least five masked men with guns. The men then drove the car to a nearby abandoned house where they left the four women guarded by two of the assailants, while Mora and the three other men drove off in the car. Once the women realized that their guards had left, they walked to a butterfly farm where Mora had worked and called the police. Mora's body was found less than a kilometer away from the abandoned house, and an autopsy is pending. The OIJ and local police say that they have not yet determined a motive for the case or a possible link to drug trafficking. However, Vanessa Lizano, the owner of the turtle sanctuary where Mr Mora worked, said he had been killed because of his work. The men wanted him because he was the one always looking after the nests. After the incident, WIDECAST has closed the program, and has said that they will no longer send staff or volunteers to monitor the beach.
Sea-turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world; poachers in Costa Rica can make up to $300 (approx. 6.301.500VND) per day smuggling turtle eggs in the black market . According to Widecast's website, Central America once supported populations of sea turtles in their thousands, but they have been in decline, partly because of widespread poaching for their meat, eggs and shells. In addition to national legislation in Costa Rica, sea turtles are protected under many international treaties.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)



© Lindsay Fendt

2. Binh Dinh province, Vietnam: Sea turtles make their way to shore for nesting

SOURCE: An ninh thu do – DATE: 7th June, 2013

On the morning of the 3rd of June, at Ngoi beach (Quy Nhon city, Binh Dinh province), witnesses reported to have seen a sea turtle measuring 1.2 metres in length and 0.9 metres width making its way on shore to lay 120 eggs. Mr Nguyen Van Minh – Leader of the volunteer sea turtle observation and protection team in Nhon Hai village said: “After receiving the report about the turtle, my team identified the location of the nest and asked the Binh Dinh Department of Aquatic Resources Protection to implement suitable measures in order to monitor and protect the nest.” According to Mr Minh, it takes 80-120 days for the eggs to hatch. Every year, egg-laying season starts at the beginning of summer rains from March to July (Lunar calendar). In Nhon Hai village, the sea turtles prefer two specific areas for nesting: Big Hon Kho island and Hai Giang beach. In 2012, 6 nests were recorded on Hon Kho Island. However, due to gusty winds and rip tides four of the nests were destroyed; the two remaining nests were moved further up the beach by the Nhon Hai turtle team. Unfortunately the eggs of the relocated nests also did not hatch.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© An ninh thu do

How the turtles got its unique hard shell

DATE: 31st May, 2013

Turtle shells offer some of the most unique armor plating's in the natural world, and after a careful combing of the turtle fossil record, researchers have unearthed more clues about the shell's origins through the study of the 260-million-year-old ancestor, Eunotosaurus. According to Dr Tyler Lyson from the Smithsonian Institution and Yale University, the turtle shell is a complex structure whose initial transformations started over 260 million years ago in the Permian period; it evolved over millions of years and was gradually modified into its present-day shape. A turtle fossil 210 million years old had a fully developed shell similar to those today, but 10 million years earlier, a fossil discovered in China, named Odontochelys semitestac, had an incomplete top shell/carapace. This fossil has now helped Dr Lyson and colleagues compare the modern turtle with its ancestor Eunotosaurus. Like turtles today, Eunotosaurus had nine pairs of T-shaped ribs. This ancient creature however did not have broad spines on its vertebrae, which both Odontochelys and modern-day turtles do have. It also lacked intercostal muscles, which are the group of muscles that run between the ribs, and did not have osteoderms - bony scales. The evidence between fossil and developmental data shows that first the ribs broadened, then the neural spines of the vertebrae broadened, and finally osteoderms on the outer side of the shell formed. These all sutured together to form the modern-day turtle shell, he added. One of the direct consequences of forming a protective shell by broadening and locking their ribs is that turtles cannot use their ribs to breathe.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


Australia: Unique outfits for turtles

DATE: 2nd June 2013

Biologist Dr Booth and his team from the University of Queensland in Australia have been studying the effects of nest temperature and global warming on reptiles - he believes that a rise in temperatures may be leading to the deaths of many newborn turtles. For this reason, Dr. Booth asked his wife to design mini swimsuits for green sea turtle hatchlings (Chelonia mydas) in order to help measure a hatchling's swimming performance and how the surrounding temperature influences their performance.
Together with his team at the University of Queensland, David began research in 2006 to investigate how rising temperatures may influence how strong hatchlings are when they are born. They found that warmer nest temperatures not only effect a turtle's sex but swimming ability. Dr Booth, 54, said: 'We were somewhat surprised to find that nest temperature had a larger effect on swimming performance than water temperature. If the climate continues to warm as is predicted, and if we want to preserve sea turtle populations at their current level at their current locations, then some sort of active management will need to be implemented.'
The study needed a number of snug fit vests to wrap around the turtles and ensure that accurate readings were measured - as well as illustrate the cute costumes created.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Tyler Lyson

© Caters News Agency

5. Ba Ria Vung Tau province, Vietnam: Dead turtle driven on shore

SOURCE: nguoilaodong – DATE: 6th June 2013

In the afternoon of the 6th of June, hundreds of people gathered at Doi Duong beach (Phan Thiet city, Binh Thuan province) when a dead turtle was washed up on the shore. The dead turtle was discovered by Mr Nguyen Huu Tri (29 years old, from Phan Thiet) while he was swimming. With the turtle measuring about 1 metre and weighing approximately 100 kg, Mr Tri called his friends to help him carry the turtle to the shore. The Hawksbill sea turtle's (Eretmochelys imbricata) carapace had been injured and cracked with its intestines showing.. With the injury most likely caused by a boat propeller. According to the Doi Duong Tourism Management Board, the dead animal was transferred to Van Thuy Tu Palace (Phan Thiet) to be buried.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© nguoilaodong

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