According to local reports, some of the sea turtles were struggling to move while others were already dead. Green sea turtles that are natural inhabitants of the kelp forests of a remote Japanese island had stab wounds to their necks caused by a blade
Green sea turtles are inhabitants of the kelp forests of Kumejima. Pixabay
At least 30 to 50 green sea turtles have been found dead or nearly dead near Kumejima, a remote Japanese island in southern Okinawa Prefecture. A few Kumejima residents made the discovery last Thursday after a low tide revealed the bodies of the turtles.
Police have launched an investigation to investigate the matter, according to a CNN report. national newspaper of japan Mainichi reported that some of the sea turtles were struggling to move while others were already dead. The turtles had stab wounds to their necks believed to have been caused by a blade.
As soon as the turtles were discovered, marine biologists and other sea turtle museum workers rushed to the scene to find them motionless, BBC reported.
Yoshi Tsukakoshi, spokesperson for the Kumejima Sea Turtle Museum, said sea turtles often get tangled in nets set by local fishermen. He added that they can also be seen as a “nuisance” by fishermen as they tear their fishing nets. “Some fishermen think the turtles eat all the seagrass before they grow up and that prevents fish from spawning in the area,” he said.
Who is responsible for the deaths?
Green sea turtles are inhabitants of the kelp forests of Kumejima, located in one of the small islands located about 2,000 km south of the Japanese mainland. The area where they were found is covered in seagrass, which the turtles eat.
According AFP, a frustrated fisherman has confessed to stabbing sea turtles to death after they got entangled in his fishing nets. The anonymous fisherman said he managed to release many sea turtles that were tangled in his net. But after he couldn’t free the others, he started stabbing them.
The fisherman said, “I’ve unraveled some of the [turtles] and I released them into the sea, but I could not release [the] heavy, so I stabbed them to get rid of them,” according to The Mainichi.
According BBC, images released by the museum showed the turtles were found floating in shallow water. Officials also found several stab wounds to the base of their necks while some also had fin injuries.
Yuji Tabata, the leader of the local fishermen’s cooperative said AFP that the fisherman in question has never seen so many turtles in his nets and that he “regrets” having stabbed them.
“An extremely macabre scene”
Employees of the sea turtle museum have expressed their grief over the turtles’ deaths.
The Facebook page of the Kumejima Sea Turtle Museum said, “As a sea turtle community that transmits the conservation of the marine environment and the importance of living creatures through sea turtle conservation activities since day-to-day , the current situation is extremely painful and disappointing. We are very sorry to have caused you all this trouble.
One of the museum’s employees was quoted in a report by Asahi Shimbuna Japanese saying, “Many turtles appeared dead. I have never seen anything like it before. It is extremely difficult to process this.
Yoshi Tsukakoshi said AFP that “sea turtles are gentle creatures and move away when humans approach them. I couldn’t believe this could happen nowadays. He added that it was an “extremely macabre scene”.
What are green sea turtles?
According The National Wildlife Federation, what sets green sea turtles apart from the rest of turtles are their upper shells and the fact that they have a single pair of prefrontal scales rather than the two pairs normally found in other sea turtles.
The carapace covers most of the reptile’s body except for its fins and head. Despite its name, a green sea turtle’s shell isn’t always green.
They are commonly found in subtropical and tropical oceans around the world. Their populations have been found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
Why are they in danger?
All turtle species are considered endangered and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, they are protected and conserved around the world. Green sea turtles are no different.
The population of green sea turtles has declined by 90% over the past half-century, according to The National Wildlife Federation. Climate change, habitat loss, diseases like fibropapilloma, and pollution near beaches have been attributed to these turtles as a threat.
They are also listed as an endangered species by Japanese authorities.
With contributions from agencies
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