Ocean Park is pleased to announce that four rehabilitated sea turtles were returned to the sea today with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (“AFCD”). The turtles included one adult and two juvenile green turtles, and a juvenile hawksbill turtle.
The three juvenile turtles were found washed up on beaches in Sai Kung and at Yan Chau Tong between October 2012 and May 2014. The turtles suffered from various conditions such as external wounds, gastrointestinal disorders and malnutrition at the time of their arrival at Ocean Park. After intensive treatment and care by the Park’s veterinarians and aquarists, the turtles were gradually rehabilitated back to a state of health deemed suitable for returning them back to the wild.
The adult male green turtle was brought to Ocean Park for treatment in October 2002. He was affectionately called “Simon” by the Park’s aquarists, named after the AFCD officer who rescued a batch of eggs in 2001, from which Simon was hatched through artificial incubation. Still a baby at the time and weighing only 400g, he was in very weak condition and had slight body deformities since he was hatched. He was also suffering from anaemia and malnutrition. After passing to Ocean Park for rehabilitation, Simon has since made a long and full recovery, and growing considerably to over 75kg in weight. Now in his prime and excellent body condition, Simon has sufficient stamina and fat reserves to assist him in settling into the environment of the open sea. To help with his adjustment into the sea, Simon has successfully been offered live food and it is believed that he will be able to catch his own food in future.
Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations & Education at Ocean Park, said, “This is a great time for Simon to return to the sea, as he is just reaching sexual maturity and will be able to start contributing to the survival of his species in the wild. As he is nearing his maximum size, he has outgrown the majority of a green sea turtle’s natural predators and should do well in the wild.”
Suzanne added, “During Simon’s 12-year tenure at the Park, he has become an iconic member of our animal family. Formerly residing at the Atoll Reef and more recently in the main tank of the Grand Aquarium, he has charmed millions of guests and has inspired them to take action for marine conservation. Many turtle populations around the world are suffering from overfishing of turtles and as by-catch when fishing for shrimp and fish, especially by Chinese fishermen. We must work together to call for a restraint on such activities and the adoption of sustainable fishing practices.”
Before releasing to the sea, the four sea turtles were tagged with microchips and satellite tags for identification purpose and collection of data regarding their movements and feeding patterns. The information will be important in aiding the formulation of conservation initiatives and protection of the species globally.
Ocean Park has been collaborating with AFCD to care for stranded or confiscated endangered animals on a volunteer basis. Since 2000, the Park has received 32 turtles, 21 of which were returned to the wild, 9 failed to survive and 2 remain under the care of the veterinary team.