Nesting turtle rescued from poachers

The turtle was found lying on its back in the bushes.

A large nesting turtle was rescued after being dragged off a West Bay beach by poachers – the fifth recorded instance of suspected turtle poaching this year.

The turtle was found lying on its back in the bushes.
The turtle was found lying on its back in the bushes.

Responding to a tip from a member of the public, in the early hours of Wednesday, Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr followed drag marks in the sand leading off the beach and into the bushes where he found the turtle lying on its back with its flippers tied together.

The turtle, which had previously been tagged by researchers, was released and returned to the ocean but the culprits were not caught. Mr. Orr said they were not on the scene when he found the turtle.

“I am not sure if I disturbed them in the act as I was searching on the beach or if they had pulled the turtle up out of sight and gone to get a truck or some assistance in carrying it off,” he said.

Mr. Orr said the latest incident was particularly concerning as it appeared to be a case of poachers strategically targeting a nesting beach, rather than an opportunist crime.

“There is no other reason for them to have been on that beach at that time of night,” he added.

The Department of Environment has enforcement officers policing the beaches overnight during nesting season while researchers are also out gathering data and providing information on alleged incidents of poaching.

Mr. Orr said there were at least two other incidents in which poachers had been scared off this year and two more in which they appeared to have been successful.

He said enforcement officers had discovered drag marks where the turtles had been taken off the beach and were also investigating reports of black market turtle meat being sold.

He said his officers were actively patrolling beaches where poaching activity was suspected.

Offenders face the possibility of fines of up to $500,000, the confiscation of their equipment and up to four years in jail.

He added, “These are people that don’t care about our heritage or our wildlife. They are simply looking for fast, easy bucks.”

This incident had a happy ending. The turtle returned to the beach the following night to lay its nest.

“We sat up all night, keeping watch while she nested,” Mr. Orr said. “Seeing her head back to the sea safely was a beautiful feeling.”

Nesting turtles typically lay three to six times in nests during a season, returning to the same beach each time. This turtle had previously been tagged by researchers and had laid two nests during the season.

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  1. Mr Orr, the next time this kind of thing happens by a poacher, all you have to do is stay somewhere you can watch to catch who would come to get the turtle, then arrest the person and make sure he gets maximum prison time and cash fine.
    Remember that the turtle can live out of the water for about a week, but this female after just laying her eggs would need some refreshing so some buckets of salt water on her would help her very much and put something under her head to keep her relaxed until the poacher is caught and put in prison. I’m sure the turtle would appreciate it so she can return to lay more eggs.

  2. This is all too common along with illegal catches of conch and lobster, however I do not recall a turtle poacher being caught and convicted. Mr Ebank’s suggestion should be followed, just lie in wait for a night or two and the poachers will be caught.
    Unfortunately these draconian laws of 4 years in jail and a $500,000 fine are window dressing only. Those involved would noy have $500 let alone half a million and in any event laws are useless without proper enforcement. How many enforcement officers do we have to police the whole length of our coastline?.