A large green turtle rescued from poachers in West Bay has been found dead in the ocean – apparently the victim of a second poaching incident.
The 400-pound turtle was found with copper wire wrapped around its flipper, an indication, say environment officers, that it had been targeted for a second time.
A flipper tag indicated it was the same animal that had been helped back to the ocean by Department of Environment staff and volunteers after poachers were disturbed in the act only a month earlier. Three men were spotted trying to drag the large female nesting turtle off a beach in West Bay by a man walking his dog on June 17.
They fled the area when they were interrupted, leaving the turtle lying on its back in the bushes. The turtle was helped back to the ocean, but its reprieve was short-lived.
A dive crew from Wall to Wall Diving found the turtle floating at sea near North West Point on July 24. The exact cause of death is unknown. Department of Environment Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr said the copper wire suggested it may have been snared at sea but broke free and died of injuries inflicted in the attempted capture.
Department of Environment Research Officer Janice Blumenthal added, “We are saddened by the loss of this female from our nesting population. This highlights the very serious problem of illegal take for our small population in that one female was involved in two incidents of attempted illegal take this season – the second of which was fatal.”
She said a research project funded by the Darwin Initiative would help to quantify and reduce illegal take of turtles in the Cayman Islands.
“The Department of Environment has recently begun a second year of Darwin-funded nighttime monitoring, which will allow us to refine estimates of green turtle nesting population size, and we are currently analyzing data from detailed surveys of households and restaurants with the aim of understanding and reducing the drivers of illegal take,” she said.