Cayman turtles flown to the UK

Turtle Farm helps with conservation efforts

Continuing its conservation efforts, Cayman Turtle Farm at Boatswain’s Beach has sent 20 of its captive bred farm raised turtles to Sea Life Centres in the UK in what is believed to be the largest transatlantic shipment of this species to date.

Crates with turtles

Crates with turtles from the Cayman Turtle Farm being transported via British Airways to the UK for conversation purposes.

Boatswain’s Beach Curator for Marine and Research Catherine Bell explained the project, which has been in the works for more than a year, represents an enormous opportunity to raise awareness within Europe for the plight of the endangered green sea turtle. SLC now has 21 operations in seven countries throughout Europe and is one of the largest of its kind on the continent, said a press release from Boatswain’s Beach/ Cayman Turtle Farm.

The turtles will be distributed initially to six aquariums throughout Europe, all of which belong to SLC.

Ms Bell said the turtles on display in the UK and throughout Europe will promote this year’s Save Our Seas programme at the SLC. Through displaying the turtles in these aquariums, the aim is to raise 500,000 Euros for the construction of a Sea Turtle Rescue and Wildlife Information Centre on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the release said. Zakynthos Island hosts 80 per cent of the nests of Mediterranean loggerhead turtles.

‘This project has been initiated with the primary goal of promoting awareness and education in regards to marine turtles in the wild as an endangered species,’ she said. ‘In addition, it will promote awareness on the potential contribution of sustainable use programmes to the conservation of wild populations.’

‘Furthermore, it will promote awareness on the marine turtle related culture and traditions in the Cayman Islands and the contribution of the Cayman Turtle Farm to the continuation of these traditions. The project will also create a foundation for Sea Life to contribute to and support Cayman Turtle Farm led research projects, which aim to promote conservation of the green sea turtle both in the wild and through sustainable use.’

Wild Production, a UK-based television station, documented the arrival of the turtles into the UK for broadcast on their Animal Planet channel. This production will also be presented to the BBC children’s news show Newsround, breakfast shows BBC Breakfast and GMTV, Sky News and Channel 5 news.

The protocol for this transatlantic shipment was developed with the support of guidelines recommended by the US Sea Turtle Working Group and individuals at the US Fish and Wildlife Service Live Animal Transport Division, the release said.

SLC sent their veterinarian Sue Thornton and Research Curator Peter Jones to the Cayman Islands to assist in the transfer.

British Airways flew the animals direct to the UK and all animals arrived safe and well, due to the expert handling and attention of the staff at Heathrow’s Animal Reception Centre.

Ms. Bell also accompanied the turtles to the new location in the UK to ensure all went well during the transfer. The turtles are now happily adjusting to their new homes in the UK, the release said.

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