Tag Archives: turtle conservation

Ten Green Sea Turtles Returned to The Sea

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) released 10 green turtles seized in an earlier enforcement action in the southern waters of Hong Kong on Monday (November 15). 

The 10 green turtles are among the 35 green turtles and one hawksbill turtle seized from a fish raft in Sok Kwu Wan Fish Culture Zone on September 30. The turtles were assessed by vets at Ocean Park Hong Kong (OPHK) and have been looked after there with constant monitoring and veterinary care.

 An AFCD spokesman said, “This is the largest batch sent to OPHK since it started helping to provide care for rescued sea turtles. The department is thankful to OPHK for making special arrangement to accommodate the sea turtles and the veterinarians and staff for taking care of them.”

The 10 green turtles weighed from 9.6 kilograms to 23kg and measured about 45 centimetres to 61cm in shell length. All of them were considered to be in good condition and ready to be returned to the sea. The AFCD will continue to work together with OPHK on the other turtles seized in the operation and release them in batches later according to their health condition and the weather.

A green sea turtle being fitted with tracking devices

Before the turtles were released to the sea, the AFCD tagged each of them with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to the carapaces of some of the turtles. By tracking the movement and feeding grounds of green turtles in the sea, the AFCD can collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share its findings with other conservation authorities for the better conservation of sea turtles.

Members of the public are urged to report any sighting of sea turtles to the department via 1823. 

AFCD Seized 36 Live Sea Turtles from Lamma

The AFCD seized 36 live sea turtles from a fish raft at Sok Kwu Wan Fish Culture Zone on Friday (September 30).
Upon receipt of a report of sea turtles found on the fish raft from the Police, the AFCD officers were deployed to the scene for investigation and they seized 35 green sea turtles and a hawksbill turtle.
All the sea turtles were sent to Ocean Park Hong Kong for observation and detailed veterinary assessment and follow-up investigation by the AFCD is ongoing.

To report suspected irregularities, call the government hotline at 1823.

Turtles Returned to Sea

On Friday (12/8/16) the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) released three juvenile green turtles in the southeastern waters of Hong Kong.
The green turtles were found by members of the public at Pak Lap Beach and Silverstrand Beach in Sai Kung and a refuse collection depot on Tin Hau Temple Street in North Point between January 2014 and July this year.

After an initial check-up by the AFCD, the turtles were taken to Ocean Park Hong Kong (OPHK) for a thorough veterinary assessment and necessary medical treatment. Since then, they have been looked after at OPHK.

The three green turtles weighed 8.6 kg to 34.5 kg and measured about 45 cm to 66 cm in shell length. All of the turtles were in good condition and ready to be returned to sea.

Before the turtles were released into the sea, the AFCD tagged each of them with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to their shells. By tracking the oceanic movement and feeding grounds of green turtles, the AFCD can collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share its findings with other conservation authorities for the better conservation of sea turtles.

The green turtle is a globally endangered species. Members of the public are urged to report any sighting of sea turtles to the department via the government hotline 1823 to help protect them.

Dead Green Turtle Found with Plastic in Stomach

A green turtle (Chelonia mydas) was found dead in Sai Kung over the weekend, apparently after ingesting too much trash.
Click here for the Coastal Watch HK Facebook page with images of the turtle.

On Saturday (24 Oct), the lifeless body of a green turtle was spotted on a beach at Pak Lap village, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The turtle’s body was said to have been dragged by stray dogs and its stomach mauled. An examination revealed that the stomach was full of litter.

The trash found inside the turtle, which was about 40-50 centimeters long, included nylon string and plastic bags.

It was the first time that evidence has been found in Hong Kong of green turtles consuming marine litter the report cited the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as saying.

After looking at the pictures of the turtle’s body, Chong Dee-hwa, the founder of the Hong Kong Ichthyological Society, believes the green turtle was a female aged around 10 years.

Patrick Yeung, project manager of the Coastal Watch Project under the WWF, said the case can be taken as evidence that sea turtles in Hong Kong are eating a lot of trash, which is a worrying situation.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department was quoted as saying that it has been informed about the case and that it will send an officer to look into the matter.

The green turtle is a protected species in Hong Kong. The beach area in Sham Wan on Lamma Island and nearby shallow waters is one of the last nesting sites of the highly endangered green turtles of southern China.

Since 1999, the area was being closed to the public from June to October every year to enable the turtles to carry out their nesting activities.

Two Green Sea Turtles Released Back Into The Sea

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) released two juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the southeastern waters of Hong Kong yesterday (September 21).
The turtles were found by members of the public at the Ma Wan Public Pier and Victoria Harbour in September 2013 and July this year. After an initial check-up by the AFCD, the turtles were taken to Ocean Park Hong Kong (OPHK) for veterinary assessment and have since been looked after at OPHK.
They weighed 8.4 kilograms and 26kg and measured about 42 and 60 cm in shell length. Both were in good condition, indicating that they were ready to be returned to sea. 

Before the release into the sea, the AFCD tagged them with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification and attached satellite transmitters to their shells. Tracking their movements and feeding grounds provides the AFCD with valuable data to formulate appropriate conservation measures and it can then share its findings with other conservation authorities for better conservation of sea turtles.
Green sea turtles are a globally endangered species. Members of the public are urged to report any sighting of sea turtles to the department by calling 1823 to help protect them. 

In Hong Kong, all sea turtle species are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586). Of the five sea turtle species found in Hong Kong waters, the green turtle is to date the only species known to nest locally. 

Call for Protection of South Lamma Waters for Turtles

The following item was taken from the SCMP of the 7/6/2014. I should mention before you read it, that the AFCD is supposed to close Sham Wan and clean up the beach for nesting season from 1st of June each year, but a personal acquaintance of mine confirmed that by 8th of June this year nothing had been done and Sham Wan was covered in rubbish and the bay was full of pleasure craft and water skiers….either the rules changed or AFCD is not doing its job.

“Give Hong Kong’s green turtles a fighting chance to survive”

Five species of sea turtle can be found in Hong Kong. One of them, the green turtle, actually nests here. This giant used to nest on the beaches of several offshore islands, and the eggs were harvested and sold by local villagers. Now, only Sham Wan on Lamma Island supports a very small breeding population.

A decline in sea turtle populations has been observed in many locations across Asia. One increasingly significant cause is the exploitation of turtles for trade in their products or even in whole specimens.

A report by Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, indicates that there has been an increase in demand for sea turtle products in China. There have also been strong indications that some fishing vessels from China are targeting sea turtles in their operations in tropical Asia. This is reflected by a growing number of cases of Chinese fishing vessels being detained by Southeast Asian countries and protected sea turtles being found on board.

Green turtles are slow to mature: it takes between 26 and 40 years before they are able to breed. Once they reach adulthood, they have few natural enemies and can live and reproduce for a long time.

The most vulnerable stages of their lives come when they are in the egg and when they are small hatchlings. It is estimated that only two to three turtles in every thousand survive to return to their natal beaches to breed.

Their exceptional orientation abilities ensure that they can find their way across vast oceans to return to the natal beach to nest; however, when subject to heavy exploitation, breeding becomes extremely difficult and it takes a long time for a depleted population to bounce back, as there is unlikely to be any “recruitment” from other, healthier populations.

Another special adaption of sea turtles is that their sex is determined by the temperature at which their eggs are incubated. If the incubation temperature is below 29 degrees Celsius, males, predominantly, will be produced, while only females will be produced at temperatures above 30.4 degrees. Rises in temperature resulting from climate change pose a great uncertainty for their future survival.

Green turtles migrate long distances from their breeding sites to feeding grounds, which increases their chance of coming into harm’s way. Satellite tracking by Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department shows turtles can travel several hundred kilometres from Hong Kong, to waters near Hainan Island , eastern Guangdong and Vietnam. Adults feed mainly on algae and sea grass but also eat some invertebrates. They often mistake pieces of floating plastic for squid. Today, ingestion of non-digestible plastics is a common cause of sea turtle death.

Hong Kong’s nesting green turtle population now probably consists of just a few adult females. Some years may see zero nesting activity.

In 1999, the government established Sham Wan as a restricted area, with no entry allowed without a permit during the nesting season. The fisheries department also patrols the nesting beach, and when natural incubation of the eggs is deemed too risky, artificial incubation will be carried out.

These efforts have resulted in baby turtles being hatched successfully either naturally or artificially.

However, the weakest link in conserving this species here is that the coastal waters adjacent to the nesting beach at Sham Wan are not protected and are subject to disturbance from people engaging in water sports.

It is in these same shallow waters that male green turtles will wait for the females – to mate with them before they lumber up the beach to lay their eggs.

The waters around South Lamma were identified as a potential marine park or reserve in a previous planning study. Indeed, with the Convention on Biological Diversity being extended to Hong Kong in 2011, we have a responsibility to contribute to the convention’s biodiversity targets, one of which states that 10 per cent of coastal and marine waters should be conserved as protected areas by 2020.

To save the remnants of our green turtle population, we should spare no effort to protect the waters off Sham Wan and give these turtles space and time, and thus the best possible chance, to recover.

Michael Lau (senior head of programme for local biodiversity & regional wetlands at WWF-Hong Kong).