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Ocean Park Returns Seven Green Turtles Post-Treatment and Recovery to the Wild

2020-06-22

Four sea turtles previously injured while others confiscated

Ocean Park, together with Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), today successfully released seven rescued green turtles back into thesea. Four of the green turtles were rescued in joint efforts with the AFCD in 2019 and 2020, while the other three were under temporary care at the Park after being seized in enforcement operations by the Department.
 
Fuji was rescued from the waters near Yung Shue O last September with obvious injuries. After thorough examination by Ocean Park’s veterinarians, an extensive fracture was found on the sea turtle’s right caudal carapace, extending into deeper muscle tissues and even the vertebrae. The carapace lesion was suggestive of a boat propeller injury. It is now completely healed after three months of careful treatment and nursing care by the Park’s veterinarians and animal keepers.
 
Another green turtle, Rain, was rescued from Sai Kung this January. The Park’s veterinarians found Rain in an extremely weak and dehydrated state, and further discovered a large volume of foreign substances in Rain’s gastrointestinal tract. Rain’s vital signs remained unstable during the initial stages of intravenous fluid therapy. Thankfully, after a month of intensive treatment and care, Rain made a full recovery.
 
The other two green turtles, Thunder and Storm, were rescued from Ma On Shan and Yung Shue Au respectively this January. Thunder was in a dull and inert state when rescuers first arrived. After thorough tests by Ocean Park’s veterinarians, Thunder was diagnosed with a respiratory infection and severe embolism in her intestinal tract, and was immediately treated with intensive intravenous fluid therapy and antibiotics, alongside nutritional support through a feeding tube. After two months of treatment by the Park’s veterinarians and animal keepers, Thunder finally managed to eat on her own and has since recuperated. For Storm, the Park’s veterinarians found a large fish hook lodged deep in her esophagus. The hook was surgically removed and Storm’s wounds have now fully healed.
 
Ocean Park also received three other green turtles from the AFCD, including two newly hatched baby sea turtles seized from an illegal trader in April 2019.
 
Michael Boos, Executive Director of Zoological Operations & Conservation of Ocean Park said, “The injured green turtles have now fully recovered. Assisted by the Park, all seven turtles have rebuilt their foraging ability – a critical skill required for life in the sea, indicating an opportune time for release. We, together with the AFCD, have also installed satellite trackers to the carapace of these seven green turtles, enabling us to track their movements and foraging locations in the ocean for the next three to six months. This will help us gather important data to enhance our conservation efforts.”
 
Boos added, “Ocean Park has been in close partnership with the AFCD for many years, providing voluntary rescue and care for stranded or seized endangered animals – including local green turtles. We discovered a plastic glove and other plastic materials in one of the rescued turtles’ faeces, while another turtle was also found to be severely injured by a fish hook. We therefore ask the public to stop using single-use plastics and not to litter. Marine debris can cause gastrointestinal blockage if mistakenly ingested by marine animals, and some may even die when entangled by fishing lines.”
 
To raise conservation awareness among young generations in Hong Kong, Ocean Park invited 17 secondary school and university students to observe and participate in the release. The students visited the green turtles at Ocean Park last week and assisted the Park and the AFCD in preparing for the release. The students then joined the Park and AFCD out to the sea today to witness the release. Since the green turtle is an endangered species and the only sea turtle species to breed locally, students truly valued the conservation project as an extremely meaningful and memorable experience. They also pledged to do their part for marine conservation and to promote this important message among friends and families.
 
Green turtles are currently protected by the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170). Ocean Park urges the public not to hunt, possess, sell or export green turtles (including their nests and eggs) unless a special permit is granted. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of HK$100,000 and imprisonment for one year, and all items will be confiscated. Ocean Park urges the public to call the AFCD hotline on 1823 if they come across injured turtles in the wild, or have information about suspected violations, so that the authorities can attend to the cases as quickly as possible.