Acting on a call from the public, officers from the Police Joint Marine Unit made a gruesome discovery in the North Sound when they found a 300 - 400 lbs adult male green turtle speared through the head and badly cut by a boat prop.
Department of Environment (DOE) Research and Enforcement Officers rushed to meet the police vessel in an effort to save the severely injured turtle. However, the discovery which was made last week (Sunday, 8 May), came too late for the turtle which died en route to the dock.
According to DOE officers, the turtle had been shot with a speargun and also hit by the prop of a boat. Based on their examination of the injuries, DOE officers believe that poachers deliberately speared the turtle in the head and then hit it with their prop as they attempted to bring it onboard their boat.
The poachers were likely disturbed while taking the turtle and fled the scene, leaving the turtle behind.
Turtle nesting populations in the Cayman Islands are endangered and the loss of rare mature turtles threatens their survival even further. Therefore DOE considers turtle poaching to be among the most serious of conservation offences.
Past cases of turtle poaching have resulted in large fines, prison sentences and confiscation of vehicles and boats used in the commission of the offence.
DOE officers confirmed that the speargun rod recovered from the turtle did not match any spears in the Cayman Islands Speargun License database - suggesting that the turtle was killed with an illegal, unlicensed spear.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to make a report to DOE Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr (916-4271) or contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.
For further information contact: Lennon Christian