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No. 104, 1st November 2013

1. Quang Ngai province, Vietnam: Trade in endangered sea turtles discovered

SOURCE: cand.;
DATE: 26th October, 2013 A truck carrying 94 frozen hawksbill sea turtles, (Eretmochelys imbricata), weighing over one ton was discovered by central Quang Ngai province's police on the 25th of October 2013. Driver Vo Van Quang said the contraband goods were purchased from offshore fishing vessels in Binh Chau commune, Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province. The size of the turtles' carapaces ranged from 0.4-0.8m. Each of these turtles is priced at approximately 6 million VND (~$284) in the illegal trade. Investigation into the case is underway. Not long ago, at Sa Ky port, the Border Force of Quang Ngai province also caught Mr Nguyen Van Tho transporting 117 sea turtles (total weight 2 tons) on his fishing vessel. He said that these turtles were caught offshore and he claimed to be unaware it was illegal to catch or transporting these animals. He, like other vessel owners, admitted to transport the turtles to Binh Dinh province to sell, but in fact, the animals were transported to Nha Trang City or Ho Chi Minh City in order to double or triple the sales price. This story highlights that despite being caught and fined many times turtle traders still become wealthy in a short period of time. With the trade in protected sea turtles becoming increasingly popular because of these high profits. The growing demand for sea turtles might be driven by the popular myth about their effect on people's health and prosperity. People use sea turtles as a libido drug or luxurious decoration. Sometimes sea turtles are also placed in the house foundation to bring luck to the house owners. Others claim that putting on jewelry made from sea turtles can treat low blood pressure. According to the Sea Natural Resources and Environment Institute of Vietnam, species of sea turtles found in Vietnamese waters are listed in the endangered or critically endangered categories classified by the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN). Vietnam's law prohibits trading and transporting sea turtle species for commercial purposes.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 3 to this web article online (English)


2. Sea turtle's DNA records human exploitation

DATE: 29th October 2013

Endangered and iconic sea turtles have a record in their DNA pointing to loss of genetic diversity caused by recent human exploitation, a Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) study has revealed for the first time. The study, which demonstrated the significant consequences of human overexploitation of marine life, was conducted by PhD student Jimena Rodríguez-Zárate and Professor Luciano Beheregaray from the Molecular Ecology Laboratory at Flinders University. The work used samples from 334 turtles collected across 18 nesting sites and around 3000 kilometers of Mexico's Pacific coast. "We not only found signal associated with recent loss of genetic diversity but two other interesting results: first, the intensive exploitation of a few nesting sites caused a reduction in genetic diversity in olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles along the entire coastal region. Second, the harvesting of individuals and nests had led to a change in the behaviour of nesting females who no longer nest in synchronized and massive mode with other females. Instead, they now seek a solitary nest," Ms Rodríguez-Zárate said. The study findings, nevertheless, have important implications for marine conservation policy. This study contributes to the notion that humans have to stop seeing the oceans as an endless source of goods and resources.

Link to this web article online (English)


3. Wuhan, China: Group of people in Wuhan find old tortoise, worship it

DATE: 29th October 2013

When local people in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China, discovered a tortoise near the Yangtze river, they decided to donate it to the local aquarium but (obviously) only after worshiping it for a while, hoping to receive luck and longevity. Due to its shape, they ascertained that the reptile was over 50 years old with its carapace reaching 40cm in length and 30cm in width. ATP note: The picture shows that the turtle is a Yellow-headed turtle temple (Heosemys annandalii), non-native to China.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)
olive ridley
© Jacinto Rodriguez

© Erik Crouch/

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