A 200 pound female green turtle got another lease on life last week (Wednesday, 7 September) after a joint operation by the police and the Department of Environment (DoE) thwarted poachers who tied her up in the Head of Barker's area.
According to DoE Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Air Unit became suspicious after spotting a wave runner that had a large object tied to the front of it.
"The wave runner was later stopped by the RCIPS marine unit, but nothing was found. We then instigated a land and sea search in the area where the RCIPS Air Unit had first seen the wave runner," he explained.
The turtle was later found in the back of a cove where she was tied to a tree by her front fins. Worried that she would get entangled in the mangroves if just set free, Mr. Orr turned her on her back and swam her back out to the North Sound.
"It was quite a struggle convincing the 200 pound turtle that I was bringing her to safety as she continually tried to bite me. Once out of the cove, I first made sure she did not have any injuries before releasing her," Mr. Orr said.
The North Sound rescue was the second turtle to be saved from poachers this month. Another attempt was foiled near Sand Hole Road after people walking the beach notified DoE.
"We suspect that the one near Sand Hole Road, a 375 pound green turtle, was probably laying eggs when she was caught and tied up. Poachers then hid her in the bush, but before they could return, she was found," Mr. Orr said.
Mr. Orr emphasised that Cayman's turtles are very endangered and they are all protected by law. He also encouraged the public to be DoE's "eyes and ears" and to report any poaching or attempted poaching.
"We cannot be everywhere and thus rely heavily on information from the public. If you see something, call 911, contact the police or talk to me directly at 916-6271."
For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver