DECR Forced to Put Down Injured Hawksbill Turtle

The Department of Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR) is saddened to report on the fate of an adult hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata - both a charismatic marine creature and globally listed as Critically Endangered.


On Wednesday, 6 January 2022, DECR officers responded to a report made of a "severely injured sea turtle" observed on Long Bay Beach area of Providenciales. With the help of concerned citizens, the turtle was located and brought to shore.


The individual was a large adult hawksbill turtle, found with physical injuries including the loss of both front flippers, damage to both back flippers, damage to one eye, and scratches across its body & shell. It was determined that such injuries were likely the result of both natural and human impacts.


The turtle was immediately taken for veterinary care, where emergency surgery was performed in attempt to enable recovery and potential return to the wild.


Unfortunately, following communication with several experts on marine turtle biology, conservation and veterinary care; the DECR came to the very difficult decision that the most humane action was euthanasia.


These experts unanimously agreed that with such injuries, the turtle would not be able to survive in the wild, with its capacity to dive, surface to breathe, forage for food, rest, reproduce, and avoid predators being significantly impeded.


While the turtle may have been able to survive in human care, it was deemed that such a life was less than an ideal for such a naturally mobile and long-lived species; and there is no suitable purpose-built facility in which the turtle could be kept long-term. The DECR in this instance chose to end the turtle's suffering.


The DECR sincerely thanks all persons who assisted with the care of this animal. We will continue to strive to conserve the natural world and promote sustainable use.


We understand that the decision made is not agreeable to some. While the DECR and many of the world's environmentalists do what we can to promote conservation (particularly for our threatened species), keeping severely injured and impaired individual animals in a situation where reproduction is impossible and suffering is prolonged may not be in the best interest of those animals. DECR regularly supports efforts to rehabilitate and return injured wildlife to the wild when individuals are deemed capable of surviving and reproducing.


The DECR encourages all watercraft operators to please be vigilant when on the water, to reduce the potential collision of our abundant marine wildlife.

Note: This individual turtle was beyond the legal harvest size for human use or consumption.


REGULATION AMENDMENTS 2014 UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE FISHERIES PROTECTION ORDINANCE:


Only green and hawksbill turtles between 18 and 24 inches shell length can be captured;

No capture of hawksbill turtles (closed season) from 1 August to 31 March, each year;

No capture of loggerhead, leatherback, olive and Kemp’s ridley turtles;

No capture of nesting turtles, or collection of turtle eggs;

Captured turtles must be landed live and uninjured;

No export of sea turtle products; Turtles cannot be kept in captivity unless for rehabilitation and release.

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