Turtle Farm: We are improving

Facility says audit doesn’t tell whole story

An annual audit revealing the Cayman Turtle Farm has used or budgeted $30 million in government “equity injections” since mid-2010 doesn’t give the full picture or include some significant successes at the facility, farm officials said in a statement released Tuesday.  

“The audited financial statements … show a continuous improvement in several key financial performance indicators,” the statement read. 

Revenues for the farm, which has been bailed out to the tune of about $9.75 million by government over the past four years, have increased in several key areas. According to the farm, tours sold to cruise ship passengers went up by 13 per cent in the 2011/12 budget year compared to the previous year. Overall tour revenues increased by 7.4 per cent during the same time. Food and beverage sales as well as gift shop revenues both increased by more than 10 per cent during the year.  

Revenues from turtle meat sales went up 16 per cent. The installation of a water slide in one of the park’s lagoon’s in December 2011 been a boon to the park, officials said. 

“The farm’s total cost-of sales to revenue ratio improved,” the farm statement noted.  

The tourism facility is also reducing the debt it is carrying from a significant expansion that began a decade ago. The borrowings, once totalling around US$54 million, have been reduced to CI$24 million by the end of the 2011/12 fiscal year.  

Of the “equity injection” paid during the budget year, about $6 million went to retire debt from previous loan payments. About $3.3 million went to cover annual operating expenses.  

The farm also cited an increase in egg production and hatch rates over the year. Hatch success rates went from 7.3 per cent to 11.1 per cent, while egg production increased 13 per cent over the 2010/11 budget year.  

Nesting turtles coming to Cayman have also seen an increase over the past decade, according to farm officials.  

“There is an upward exponential trend in the number of sea turtles nesting in Cayman, with the greatest increases being in green sea turtle nests,” the farm statement read.  

An audit completed by accounting firm KPMG and reviewed by the Cayman Islands Auditor General’s Office put the government’s equity injection during the 2010/11 year at $9.85 million and $9.7 million for the 2011/12 year.  

The projected equity injection for the 2012/13 budget year is set at $10.5 million, although it’s not certain whether the farm will spend all of that cash through the end of the year on 30 June, 2013.  

The massive amount of government funding required to sustain operations at the Turtle Farm was a subject of “going concern”, according to auditors.  

“Cost overruns of the development of the park, lower than projected visitor numbers and operating costs in excess of initial budgets have given rise to significant business risks that cast uncertainty over the company’s ability to continue …” according to the auditor’s review.  

The issues referenced by auditors resulted in the farm being unable to discharge its obligations without access to lending facilities or government equity injections.  

“Furthermore, operational results subsequent to 30 June, 2012, indicate that the company continues to generate significant losses from operations and experience cash flow difficulties,” auditors noted. 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. to summarise, it isn’t as bad as we all think, but it is still bad, and will probably never break even…ever.

    4dafuture, if you’re reading this, why not mash up a few Blue Iguanas too, and sell their oil and other iguana-based products – that would give the islands a really good reputation.

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  2. i never tell guests to go to turtle farm.. it is a rip off and nasty. You would think more people would get sick putting their hands in that fecal invested water.
    Free the turtles and keep a few for meat and shut it down.

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  3. FREE THE TURTLES! They have provided enough entertainment revenue and have been a farmed food source for The Cayman Islands for long enough! And while we’re at it, FREE THE DOLPHINS too! These creatures are meant to swim in our seas oceans… seeing them on a dive or submersible trip in their natural environment is majestically breathtaking!

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  4. crisscross – just wondering:

    Where do you tell your guests to go?

    Not so many unique experiences here in my humble opinion.
    Stingray city might be the only other unique experience.

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  5. Continuing to do something just because you’ve always done it is not a good enough reason to continue to do it. Perhaps now is the time to ask, is it beneficial and serving a valid/worthwhile purpose to all concerned?

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  6. Hmmm 30 million in government equity injections since mid-2010, when there is such a need to assist Young Caymanians with educational needs, provide assistance to the disabled elderly, raising awareness, educating tackling the root issues of domestic violence sexual abuse crime in the Cayman Islands, hmmm

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  7. It is so sad to see these amazing creatures penned in and swimming in over-crowded dirty water.Maybe downsizing would be a good move, that might make it more manageable to care for them properly.Less staff….less wages.

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  8. To Stan-one island can only have so many unique experiences. The Botanical Garden and the Mastic Trail come to mind if you need a place to send people. The turtle farm is unique for the wrong reasons. I remember the reptile farms that used to dot the highways along the US gulf coast. The turtle farm reminds me of them.

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  9. Topsy47, Shelley,

    Your comments are accepted and respect only if you are vegetarians.

    There are two many people talking about poor animals and their right to live and enjoy life over lunch with a nice stake. And turtles are not somehow superior to cows or pigs, just so you know.

    I am not against eating meat – I like meat myself, just don’t like people who say one thing and do the other.

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  10. @STAN, I tell people to go to cemetery beach and snorkel around the reef out there. You have a good chance of seeing a turtle swimming around free in its natural environment. You get way more satisfaction then paying 60 to see them in a dirty pool.

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