A 300-400 lb sea turtle was found injured but alive in the vicinity of East End earlier this month where poachers left her bound in the bushes awaiting slaughter.
Department of Environment Marine Enforcement Officers Carl Edwards and Ronnie Dougall discovered the crime and rescued the turtle.
Mr. Edwards said it appeared that the female loggerhead turtle was taken when she came onto the beach to lay eggs.
Loggerheads are rare in the Cayman Islands and recent surveys have shown that less than a dozen adult females of the species are known to nest here.
“The turtle had dropped her eggs on the ground around her, and one of her flippers was cut and bloody from the rope she had been tied with,’ he said. ‘However, we were able transport the turtle to the beach and release her back into the wild.”
Officers hope that evidence collected at the scene will lead to the identification of the persons responsible.
If anyone has any information regarding this incident, Mr. Dougall can be reached at 916-5849 and Mr. Edwards can be reached at 916-0432.
This is the second turtle rescued by DoE this year.
The first was a large green turtle, which was discovered in late April by Acting Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Orr and Officer Dougall. The turtle was found lying on her back, about to be slaughtered, at a residence in East End. In that incident, a male East End resident has been arrested on suspicion of possessing a turtle without a licence.
“Turtle poaching is one of the most serious conservation offences,” said Mr. Orr.
Past cases of this nature have resulted in large fines and prison sentences, and equipment used in the offence, including vehicles and boats, may be confiscated by the courts.
For the past 10 years, DoE’s Marine Turtle Research Programme has recorded turtle nesting activity, in order to evaluate the status of nesting populations in each of the three Cayman Islands.
The department’s research and enforcement staff, along with trained volunteers, survey beaches four days per week throughout the five-month nesting season.