Kuta, Indonesia – NEWS AND OPINION: The Times reports on the rescue of two dozen green sea turtles from poachers. All sea turtles are protected in Indonesia. Green turtles are classified as endangered due to various forms of exploitative human activity such as overharvesting them for their eggs, hunting them, destroying their habitat (beach nesting sites), being killed in fishing gear, and being eaten for their meat and finally humans find a use for their skin and shells. It is a hard life being a green turtle in and around Indonesia.
The rescue turtles were returned to the sea. A video of this event shows a lot of volunteers and onlookers gathered around, fascinated with the turtles’ behaviour and appearance. They hosed water over the turtles and one of them patted a turtle’s head. There was quite a lot of love for this gentle giant among those present in complete contrast to the abuse and exploitation of the poachers.
In all 36 green turtles were seized last month when several suspected animal traffickers were arrested. The release is being conducted carefully. The head of the Bali National Resources Conservatio Center, Agus Budi Santoso, said that they would not be released unless they were certified as being healthy and able to cope in the natural environment.
Green sea turtles
The turtles can weigh more than 300 kg. They are also known as the black turtle and Pacific green turtle. They are the only member of the genus Cheloniidae. They lay their eggs on beaches. They spend most of their time in shallow coastal waters with lush seagrass beds. They live within protected shores and shallow bays. Their habitat includes nearshore seagrass beds, salt marshes and coral reefs. It is only humans and large sharks who prey upon them. They can swim up to 2600 km to reach their spawning grounds. They can live up to 80 years of age in the wild and reach sexual maturity between 20 to 50 years of age.
As for human persecution and exploitation, historically their skin was tanned then used to make handbags especially in Hawaii. The ancient Chinese liked to eat sea turtles because they considered the flesh to be a delicacy. In Indonesia, as mentioned above, sea turtle eggs are a popular delicacy. Interestingly, their flesh is considered haram (forbidden or unclean) under Islamic law. Because of human exploitation they are considered endangered by the IUCN Red List.