Conservation groups pile on Turtle Farm

More heat from international turtle conservation groups washed over the Cayman Turtle Farm last week, as the facility defended itself from claims that it said were “at best misleading, and 
at worst untrue”.  

Following a report released by the United Kingdom-based World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy blasted the farm for giving people what it called “a false impression that conservation of sea turtles in the wild can be accomplished simply by breeding turtles in tanks and … releasing them.”  

In a response to the conservancy, released Thursday, the Turtle Farm noted there was no evidence that releasing captive turtles into the wild puts other turtles in danger.  

“The allegation that our turtle releases endanger wild population by potentially spreading disease and genetic abnormalities is at best misleading and at worst untrue,” the farms said in a statement.  

The Sea Turtle Conservancy Executive Director David Godfrey said the farm’s statement was 
wrong on a number of levels.  

First, he said there are “well-documented” cases of diseases “found primarily” in captive turtle populations being spread to wild turtles. Second, the Turtle Farm turtles originate from many different 
areas in the wild. 

“[This] means they have different genetics,” Mr. Godfrey said. “It could have far-reaching impacts on sea turtle navigation abilities 
and genetics.”  

Third, is the false impression that is created by releasing the 
turtles, he said.  

The Turtle Farm, in turn, disputes such assertions by the WSPA and the turtle conservancy.  

“Through recent satellite-tagged turtle releases, we are also able to capture data on the behaviour of green sea turtles released into the wild; where they go and what they do, and thus far we have seen that the satellite-tracked turtles we have released into the wild have adapted well to their new habitat,” the farm stated.  

Genetic mutation among turtles bred at the farm is an “incorrect claim” made by WSPA, according to the Turtle Farm. Officials at the 
facility said a veterinary review done at the Turtle Farm subsequent to the WSPA’s report found no turtles at the farm with the genetic defects alleged (blindness, health problems, diseases, etc).  

“Cases of genetic mutation at the Cayman Turtle Farm are extremely rare,” officials said. The Sea Turtle Conservancy also noted the recent tragedy that killed 299 sea turtles at farm following a water line break.  

The juvenile turtles, between the ages of 3 and 5 (green sea turtles can live anywhere from between 60 and 100 years or even longer in some cases) were trapped in holding tanks that the water drained out of following the line break.  

“We lost some 299 turtles, which were all between the ages of 3 and 5 years old,” read a statement released by the Turtle Farm. “This loss has been very upsetting to the management and crew members involved in responding to the incident.” All of the animals that died in the incident were green sea turtles, according to farm spokesperson Tina Trumbach. The animals had to be disposed of and could not be harvested for sale of turtle meat, according to farm officials.  

According to a statement from the Turtle Farm, one of the large water pipes carrying seawater from a pumping station developed a crack underground on Monday, 16 July. The water leak flooded the road and in order to make repairs the tourism attraction had to stop pumping sea water into the farm location through the pipe system.  

The Sea Turtle Conservancy said the incident highlighted the “neglect” that takes place at the Turtle Farm. “In a statement from the Cayman Turtle Farm to Wildlife Extra, they acknowledged that ‘in order to repair the pipe break and avoid a worsening flooding situation, the decision was made to cease pumping sea water into the farm through the main pipe system,” the conservancy statement read.  

“In essence, once the tank was drained, the turtles were left piled on top of each other to cook to death under the Cayman sunshine,” Mr. Godfrey said. “It’s time to turn things around at the Cayman Turtle Farm, and there really is an opportunity to do something positive for sea turtles at this historical site.”  

Turtle Farm officials have publicly expressed doubts that either the WSPA or the turtle conservancy have the facility’s best interests at heart. “There is no animal cruelty at the Cayman Turtle Farm,” the statement said. “We are trying to conserve these turtles and increase their numbers. Our efforts are devoted to their well being and care.” 

1 COMMENT

  1. Do not let these eco tyrants bully you into submission. Chase them off the island and tell them to go pound some sand. (in their own country).

    Sir Paul, why don’t first deal with your own blood sausage eating people over there in the UK?

  2. Call a spade a spade, the Cayman Turtle farm is not a conservation institution it is a turtle slaughter house for the local consumption of turtle meat. Quit trying to sugar coat the reality of the facility.

  3. Put up the price of meat to cover the real costs of the farm, to start with.
    Then find an acceptable outside expert to make an independent report on the care, health, genetic aspects etc of the turtles.

  4. One of the problems in Cayman is that we have too many wolves in sheep clothing.
    How can you people live among us and are such a big bunch of hippocrites is beyond me.
    To comment on this story further, this is what I have to say United States is always searching other people backyard for something, when they have so much crap to clean up in theirs. I do not believe a word of what the Florida Sea Turtle Conservation base have to say, it is all untruth. They like so many others only like to dip into foreign affairs which do not concern them. Stay out of Cayman and clean out your old dirty cow pen.

  5. We are currently subsidizing the turtle farm almost 1,000,000 per month. We cannot afford it any more. Sell it for whatever is possible or close it down.

  6. Turtlemeat is part of our heritage and no matter what outsiders seem to think that will not change. If the farm is closed, then they will be taken from the sea. With a few upgrades on the facilities the Turtle Farm can continue to do what it was established to do – breeding of turtles for release and consumption. All the conservationist who are freaking out about this can leave us in peace and continue eating their black pudding and caviar. Panama Jack did you miss CAL’s flight sale…

  7. based on the thumbs up and down votes that the compass is allowing speaks volumes to Caymanians having to watch their backs.
    These people just don’t seem to get the message that they are not wanted in our affairs!
    what part of not wanted do you all not understand?

    When are you eco maniacs going to launch a campaign against human trafficking little boys and girls as sex slaves? Or that’s not a problem? How about killing the innocent unborn child in the womb yes taking an innocent life is murder! Those unborn children have no voice, Ever thought of lending them your voive? most of you are liberals who seek self gratification at the cost of everyone else.

    Caymanians have managed their turtle farm for decades almost half a century and will continue.

    Get a life you lousy idle idiots!

  8. Liverpool – I’m interested in how to get one of these lifes, please do elaborate. You see after your comment I took a good hard look in the mirror and realised:

    1. I am lousy – there are lice everywhere
    2. I am idle – I am generally lazy
    3. I am an idiot – I was looking at a picture of me, not a mirror

    I think I’ll help unborn children (I initially thought this was a contradiction as the unborn offspring of a human is a fetus, a child is born when said fetus actually enters this world – but then I looked in the mirror again realised Iwas an idiot). I will make it my mission in life to give a voice to all these unborn children.

    Your words have inspired me. You should consider writing a book – maybe a babies book so I can read it to one of the unborn children when it is born. I can tell them all about the eco maniacs and sex slaves

  9. Justanotherperson…

    I’ve just hit the thumbs-down button on your comments…just once, to be fair.

    But my disagreement with not just your words but also your sly, deceitful isinuations and manipulation of Liverpool’s comments, which in most part, I agree with…would have me hitting it many more times than once…if I could.

    Its clear by your comments, that you ARE a liberal, abortion-rights supporter, and quite possibly a fanatical animal-rights supporter as well.

    My views are that you support any and all of these politically motivated causes to give your lives some meaning, not that you necessarily believe in any of them…and to enjoy the publicity and organizational funding that you sometimes receive from your political backers.

    Maybe you conveniently overlook the fact that in most countries that allow abortion, including Britain and Cayman, a fetus is declared a living, unborn child after 23 weeks…and that any type of abortion after that is illegal ?

    And does killing a living, unborn child not constitute murder ?

    There is some political agenda for these animal-rights groups now taking aim at Cayman’s Turtle Farm, the only green sea turtle conservation and replenishment facility on the planet.

    For almost 40 years this establishment has been the only one in the world that worked to actively re-stock the seas of what was an almost extinct species…the green sea turtle.

    Now, out of nowhere, these fanatics show up making these weird, unsubstantiated accusations about a facility, who have been the world’s experts in this replenishment project.

    My question is…who is behind this ?

    I have to agree with Liverpool on this one…your insinuations are insulting and condescending.

    No wonder some Caymanians want people like you gone from amongst them.

  10. Firery

    I have little problem with the way the turtle farm is run. The clue is in the name – it’s a farm. Farms are run to provide food. Could it be run better – of course, but so could so many other farms in the world. In my opinion the turtle farm is doing more good than harm.

    Animal activists always need a species to back to prove they still have a purpose. This will pass.

    My comments against Liverpool was due to how rude he was to all those who have thoughts which aren’t his own. Telling them to get a life, calling them idiots – these comments offer a form of a discussion. You don’t have to agree with me, I don’t have to agree with you – but resorting to name calling is just immature.

    Please also understand I did not bring up the issue of abortion. That came (from nowhere) from Liverpool. The abortion topic is beyond huge, there is no point discussing it here.

    As for your comments about me supporting a cause to give my life meaning and that I might not even agree with some of the causes I back…understand all actions are not driven by politics.

    You’re entitled to my opinion about me, I respect your right to that opinion and all other opinions you hold. I may not agree with them but I respect your rights to hold them. Can you honestly say you respect mine (or anyone not sharing your views)?

  11. Justanotherperson…

    Anyone reading my comments over the time I’ve been on this forum would know that I am one of the more open-minded and respectful members that regularly post comments here…the history is there for the reading as proof of this.

    These differences of opinion usually result from a clash of cultures…a HUGE problem relating to anything to do with Cayman.

    Maybe, what you do not know is that the name, ‘turtle farm’ is a locally coined one…and is NOT the official name of the establishment.

    The official name is…Cayman Mariculture Centre…or something to that effect…and was coined to reflect the true purpose of the project many years ago…replenishment and conservation of the green sea turtle.

    The research done on the green sea turtle at this establishment has been invaluable to conservationists worlwide in getting to have the female green sea turtle lay her eggs in captivity, on artificially created beaches…because, in the wild, turtle eggs are a delicacy for other animal…and human predators, and only a small percentage of the hatchlings ever survive to grow into adult turtles.

    The migratory travel patterns of released adult turtles have also been tracked from this establishment…again giving conservationists invaluable information on the green sea turtle.

    Do I really need to continue this educational diatribe on what most Caymanians already know about the ‘turtle farm’?

    That the turtle is Cayman’s national dish is historically established worlwide…and the ‘turtle farm’ is the only place in the world where turtle meat can be bought legally…and in carefully controlled amounts…again to assist in the conservation process.

    Any fool in the world who wishes to know, already should know that this establishment was made to stop the poaching of the green sea turtle in the wild…and that the commercial selling of turtle meat is the LEAST important of its functions, as the amounts sold is stringently controlled by government regulations.

    As Liverpool has already stated…some foreigners just need to KEEP OUT OF CAYMAN’S AFFAIRS…

    and lets end the debate there…

    OK ?

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