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Successful Conservation in Kinmen: the Wounded Green Sea Turtle Went Back to the Sea After Recovery

Successful Conservation in Kinmen: the Wounded Green Sea Turtle Went Back to the Sea After Recovery
Reporter: Li Jin-Chang/Jinning

Kinmen County Government, Kinmen Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Association (KWRCA), teachers and students from An Hu Elementary School, and Tzu Chi Merits Society released a cured green sea turtle, nicknamed “Watermelon”, yesterday morning at Houhu Beach. At the same time, they helped Jinning Township Office with coastal cleanup to let Watermelon swim back to the sea.

On May 18th, 2017 a report was received from Jinhu Fishery Port that a green sea turtle was found chewing garbage in the harbor. After the veterinary’s examination, some pathological spots were found on the turtle. After one-month treatment and shelter, the turtle was able to forage normally, and the wounds gradually healed. During the shelter stay, the turtle was doing fine except that it excreted some artificial objects (fishing nets). It now could be released to the wild. Thus, Kinmen County Government and KWRCA released Watermelon yesterday at Houhu Beach, escorting it back to its natural habitat.

According to the previous research, the green sea turtle could be 2 to 5 years old, which is a very young turtle – equivalent to a kindergarten child. It takes a long time for sea turtles to grow up and at least 20 years for them to reach maturity. Along with the increase of ocean wastes, fishing, and destruction of habitats, the number of the sea turtles is largely shrinking. This turtle was exceptionally lucky as it could have been accidentally crushed by ships when it strayed into the seaport. Fortunately, it was found early and this also reminded us of the preciousness and fragility of the ocean creatures. After the release, more than 100 participants from the school and citizens joined Jinning Township Office to clean the coastline, picking up trash littered on the shore. This was not only a beautiful beach for people’s pleasure, but also a crucial environment for creatures to survive.

The Economic Affairs Department stated that the rescued green sea turtle was taken care of by the KWRCA veterinary team in shifts for more than one month. To make the turtle enjoy its meals more, “squid and sea grapes Temaki” was delicately prepared for it. The vets nicknamed the turtle “Watermelon”, hoping it would return to the ocean as soon as possible. This was the first time in many years for the County Government to successfully release a rescued sea turtle back to its natural habitat. Though short of substantive experience, Kinmen County Government was aided by KWRCA; Ecology and Conservation Lab, National Taiwan Ocean University; National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium; veterinaries from NTU Veterinary Hospital; and Forestry Bureau, Council of Agriculture in terms of medical and care consultation. The turtle received various kinds of treatments and care and was able to recover. Furthermore, a cooperation model between Kinmen Fishermen’s Association, Kinmen Fisheries Research Institute, and the County Government was established through online clinic and counsel to solve the problem of moving creatures around and costs. Environmental conservation reaches its maximum result through resources integration and cooperation among diverse organizations.

The reason to choose Houhu Beach, stated the Economic Affairs Department, is not only because of its appropriate environmental conditions but also for the forthcoming Quemoy International Music Festival. Kinmen has a wide variety of marine ecology. While sending out a heartfelt welcome to visitors from all over the world, the County Government would also like to remind the visitors that the biggest survival threat for the sea turtles in the world is ingestion of plastic wastes and the pollution thereof. Any littered plastic garbage can severely harm marine creatures. The County Government hopes that the region could become Watermelon’s turf. Other than bringing your own trash home, please remember to protect the environment by letting trash out of the coastline.

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  • Date:2017-12-01