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No. 105, 8th November 2013

1. Quang Ngai province, Vietnam: Sea turtle hunter risk their life despite obvious danger

DATE: 4th November, 2013

The profit that sea turtle hunters poachers can make after only one hunting voyage trip usually reaches over one hundred million Vietnamese Dong (~$4,742). However, hunters may often risk their lives out at sea. A vessel from Binh Chau commune, Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province has gone offshore since the 6th of September, 2013, but is still missing. The 14-person-crew last contacted their families on the 10th of October, saying that it was a successful and profitable trip, but since then no contact has been made. Their families delayed notifying the authorities over this issue as they basically knew their families were violating the law by hunting endangered sea turtles. The families waiting at home now depend on the investor who funded the fishing vessels and hunting equipment. In the past there have been incidents where other hunting vessels sunk and the investors lost a lot of money because of the large profit margins in the illegal and sometimes dangerous sea turtles trade.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


2. Fibreglass turtles put in wind tunnels to assess drag of GPS tags

DATE: 4th November, 2013

A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia, led by T . Todd Jones , a scientist with the snappily-named National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Hawaii and former doctoral fellow at UBC, wanted to quantify the energy cost to animals when they are made to carry satellite tags, video cameras or other research instruments. The researchers created fiberglass casts of sea turtles (small and large) and placed them into a wind tunnel. Jones said: "We made plaster of Paris negatives from turtles that died from natural causes. We then used the moulds to create fiberglass replicas of the turtle carcasses." The fiberglass casts had flexible markers attached to them to allow researchers to observe the flow of air (and therefore water) around the shell. They found that some devices increased drag by more than 100 percent on small or juvenile turtles, although most commercially available tags increased drag by less than five percent on a large adult animal. Many marine animals such as turtles make year-long breeding migrations across oceans. "Others may rely on high speeds and acceleration, enabling them to catch prey or to escape predators. If the drag costs from carrying tags disrupt their natural behaviour, they may miss out on breeding and foraging seasons, be unable to catch enough food, or even end up becoming someone else's meal," Jones explained. Beyond animal welfare issues, tags that cause excessive drag can also affect the accuracy of research collected in the wild. Jones and his team have therefore developed guidelines to make sure that data collected reflects animals' natural behaviour in the wild.

Link to this web article online (English)


3. Bac Lieu province, Vietnam: Endangered sea turtle released back to sea

DATE: 30th October, 2013

On the 30th of October, 2013, a working team of Vinh Loi district in cooperation with the Department of Marine Resources Exploitation and Protection of Bac Lieu province visited Chau Vien pagoda and persuaded the head monk of the pagoda to hand over an endangered green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). The turtle weighing 37kg was given to the pagoda as a gift from a person in Nga Nam district, Soc Trang province. The animal was later released 12 nautical miles offshore of Nha Mai district, Bac Lieu.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)
turtle wind tunnel
© UBC/Todd Jones


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