We are always appalled and a little bit surprised when we hear of turtle poaching.
The Caymanian Compass carried an article on page 3 of Tuesday’s newspaper about an injured female loggerhead turtle that poachers took from the beach in East End where she was going to lay her eggs.
The would-be turtle killer(s) tied her with a rope and hid her in the bush. The rope cut her flipper and her eggs had been dropped to the ground.
Department of Environment Marine Enforcement officers Carl Edwards and Ronnie Dougall are to be commended for finding the loggerhead, freeing her and getting her back to her wild habitat. They suspect she will live.
That anyone is still capturing and killing turtles in the Cayman Islands is not only wrong and illegal, it’s a shame.
This case of poaching was made even worse because loggerhead turtles are very rare in the Cayman Islands. Recent surveys have shown that fewer than a dozen females of that species are known to make their nests here.
It isn’t necessary for anyone to be catching turtles to put food on their plates in the Cayman Islands any longer.
Instead of poaching and breaking the law, those who want fresh turtle stew or steaks are more than welcome to obtain the meat legally at the Boatswain’s Beach Turtle Farm.
When poachers kill our sea turtles they are robbing each of us of our Caymanian heritage.
If all of the turtles alive today aren’t allowed the chance to reproduce, future generations of Caymanians might only be able to see or learn about them in textbooks.
Nesting season for turtles is on now through October. We should all be vigilant and keep an eye out for females on the beach laying eggs.
If you are fortunate enough to see a nesting turtle, stay behind her at a distance and remain quiet. Don’t shine any lights on her and don’t touch her because you could frighten or disorient her, causing her to return to the sea before completely covering her nest.
If you do wander upon a nesting turtle, call the Department of Environment at 949-8469 or 926- -0135 on Grand Cayman (nights and weekends), 926-0136 on Cayman Brac, and 916-7021 or 926-2342 on Little Cayman.
If anyone sees someone harming or taking sea turtles or their eggs, they are asked to call 911.
Cayman might have had a long turtling history, but the time for that has passed, just as the days of the horse and buggy, smoke cans and wattle and daub houses.
We’re more fortunate than most other countries with turtling histories. We’ve got a place where we can buy fresh turtle meat and uphold a Caymanian tradition.
There is no reason for turtle poaching in the Cayman Islands. Support the Turtle Farm.