Worldwide Wildlife News

Back from the Brink: Victories in Conservation

Boa Constrictor Produces Fatherless Babies Wednesday, November 3, 2010, CBC News

Researchers have discovered a female boa constrictor that can produce offspring without mating — so-called virgin births — a rare phenomenon among vertebrates.

A female boa produced two large litters of female babies with no help from any male. More significant, however, was a finding that the offspring all had a genetic makeup never before recorded naturally in the vertebrate world.

Normally, female boa constrictors have a Z and a W chromosome, while male boas have two Z chromosomes.

What was so extraordinary in the case of this boa super-mom is that all of her female offspring had two W chromosomes — something that was thought to be impossible. The 22 babies all had the mother's rare color mutation.

In effect, the babies are all half clones of their mother.

Incidents of virgin births have often been attributed to an absence of males. But the mother's two virgin birth litters were produced while she was being housed with male snakes, and she had previously given birth to litters after mating with a male.

Virgin births common among invertebrates

Lead author Warren Booth, a geneticist at North Carolina State University, said the results may require scientists to take another look at reptile reproduction. He suggested that asexual reproduction in snakes could be more common than previously thought.

Such virgin births are common in the invertebrate world. Many insect species, for instance, can produce offspring without mating. But asexual reproduction in vertebrates is much rarer. Incidents of virgin births — known in the scientific community as parthenogenesis — have been reported previously among captive female hammerhead sharks and in Komodo dragons, but never before among boa constrictors.

Researchers at North Carolina State University published the results of their study in Biology Letters, a Royal Society journal.

"These findings provide the first evidence of parthenogenesis in the [Boa family], and suggest that WW females may be more common within basal reptilian lineages than previously assumed," the authors write.

It's not clear if the all-female snake babies will eventually mate with a male, or reproduce asexually, or do both as their mother did. But because of their WW chromosomes, any offspring they produce will be female.

Gucci, Hermès, Cartier & Co.: Stop the snake slaughter in Indonesia! 10/22/10, from Rainforest Rescue

Switzerland is the world’s largest trader in products manufactured from threatened species. Every year, the Swiss watchmaking industry alone imports more than one million leather watch bands made from the skins of endangered reptiles.

Apparently, neither the industry nor its exclusive clientele care about the incredible torture the animals have to endure just to end up as fashionable accessories. A video clip aired on Swiss news broadcast “Rundschau” reveals how Water monitors are tied together and kept in plastic bags for days, until they are killed by a hammer blow to the head. However, a large number of these animals survive their severe injuries – and are skinned alive as a consequence. Snakes get an additional “water treatment” prior to flaying: A hook through the upper jaw locks them into position, and a hose is inserted that fills their bodies with water. This procedure is employed in order to stretch their bodies so straight cuts can be made before the skinning. Unequivocally, the struggling movements of the animals prove that they are alive all along.

In the light of this footage, it is shocking that most of the companies in dispute have not responded in any appropriate way. For example, in the interview with the chairman of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Jean-Daniel Pasche simply declares that animal welfare was an issue not yet discussed by the management bodies of the companies – and thus, he himself could not make a statement.

Nevertheless, the issue of animal protection is especially pressing. The excessive hunt for reptiles has already reached an alarming level: By now, the number of animals has decreased to such an extent that the “lizard hunters” catch no more than ten specimens per night. After all, Indonesia alone exports about 400.000 skins of Water monitors. The governments of the individual countries themselves allocate the catch quota – even if they lack scientific statistics concerning the species’ population. As an example, the Asiatic reticulated python has an annual bag limit of 157.000 specimens in Indonesia. Furthermore, NGO TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has proof that the exemption limits for export are exceeded constantly. Indonesian companies smuggle untanned hides into Malaysia, for example. There, grants of export licenses are bought – and charged to the Malaysian catch quota.

The reference sources have to be classified as doubtful anyway. In Switzerland, the trading in protected species and animals is subject to licensing as well.

Even there, some of the corresponding papers for reticulated pythons are marked with the identification code for “breeding business” – although these breeding farms do not exist in Indonesia. Addressed with this fact, the Swiss federal office in charge promises to forward this piece of information to the central office to issue export licenses, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

So far, Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch is the only enterprise to respond to the news report immediately. CEO Nick Hayek, Jr. radically deletes products with dubious background from the company’s range – even though watch bands made from alligator leather provided by North American breeding farms are set to remain on offer. However, these suppliers will be thoroughly checked by Swatch as well.

Gucci has its own tannery for the imported hides, but as of yet has not passed a comment. Hermès and Cartier simply point out that their commercial trading businesses abide by current legislation. Bally on the other hand insists on their python hides to coming from Indonesian breeding farms – which do not exist, according to the Swiss federal office.

Rainforest Rescue calls for the Swiss fashion companies and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry to stop importing exotic leather types of protected animals. The methods for catching and processing can only be classified as animal cruelty. Moreover, this particular way of commercial trading poses a considerable threat to the rainforest’s biodiversity.

North Americans may be some of the worlds first climate refugees from global warming.

According to the results of a recently released poll by Harris Interactive, the number of Americans who believe that global climate change is occurring has declined to only 51 percent, and is dropping fast.

This new result is a steep decline from the 71 percent of Americans who indicated they believed in global warming, in 2007.

The survey, titled "Big Drop in Those Who Believe that Global Warming is Coming" (PDF) found that about 29 percent of Americans don’t believe in global warming, while 21 percent are unsure. Sadly, these percentiles mirror the staunch political partisianship on this issue, with 73 percent of Democrats believing in global warming, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans.

While the fact that people who clearly indicated that they believed in global warming at one point have found a reason to change their tune is an issue worth pondering all on its own, the visible effects of climate change continue to grow; oblivious to the debate.

A recent article in Reuters, those individuals living in the U.S. heartland are some of the most staunch climate change deniers, "fueling conservative opposition to a climate change bill that is a priority for President Barack Obama and making some Democrats vulnerable in the November 2010 congressional elections."

Maybe the skepticism is strongest in the central states because they have yet to experience the drastic effects of miniscule increases in temperature can cause.

Perhaps a visit to Americans living on the edge of the continent would open their eyes.

As the leaders of the world prepare to gather in Copenhagen to address the need for international cooperation in order to slow climate change, one Alaskan village is slowly melting away, leaving its inhabitants homeless and without a way to continue their centuries-old culture.

CNN recently reported that the Inupiat Eskimo village of Shishmaref, Alaska is experiencing coastal erosion at an accelerated rate, due to melting permafrost caused by climate change, and as a result, one home has already toppled into the sea, and over a dozen more have been moved inland.

"Rising global temperatures have started to thaw the permafrost that once helped anchor this village in place." Typically, "sea ice that protects Shishmaref's coast from erosion melts earlier in the spring and forms later in the fall. As a result of the temperature increases, "the increasingly mushy and exposed soil along Shishmaref's shore is falling into the water in snowmobile-sized chunks."

It's important to note that this is not an isolated incident. CNN reported that "a dozen Alaskan villages, including Shishmaref, are at some stage of moving because of climate-change-related impacts like coastal erosion and flooding."

While the rest of the world watches with differing levels of apathy and denial as politicians debate about whether climate change is a reality, the chunks of once stable permafrost continue to melt and fall away in Alaska, and the centuries-old Eskimo culture, their unique language and the viability of their entire village waits to slip into oblivion.

These American citizens will likely be some of the world's first climate refugees, a threat that tops the list of concerns for Copenhagen attendees, and an issue that no amount of polling can allow us to continue to ignore.


Japan Officially Labels Sea Shepherd Director Paul Watson a "Terrorist" for Saving Whales

by: Drew Wilson July 2009

When will this silly "terrorism" rhetoric end? I thought that once Bush left office he would take the with-us-or-with-the-terrorists mentality with him. Maybe that was naive. Apparently the Japanese government has taken yet another step towards labeling the conservationist Paul Watson a terrorist.

Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and captain of the anti-whaling vessel, the Steve Irwin. During a recent trip between Canada and the United States, Watson discovered that he is now officially on some kind of Japanese suspected-terrorist watch-list. While going through the regular paperwork of international air travel, he was told that there was some issue with his documents and was pulled aside by a member of the American homeland security office. There he was held long enough to miss his original flight, but Watson was lucky enough to catch the next flight out.

While being held, Watson discovered from the US agents that the Japanese government has sent an official communication to the American government that they suspect the anti-whaling activist of being a terrorist. The homeland security officer eventually let him go, but only after asking for an autograph for his son. Apparently the boy is a big fan of Whale Wars. Awesome.

From Paul's online editorial column:

"But the truth had just been revealed and with a shudder down my spine I realized that I was now a member of a new species of terrorist, a gentler, kinder sort of terrorist.

I was not upset. In fact I was overjoyed to find out that I was not alone. Another international terrorist whose name strikes fear into the hearts of every Chinese communist bureaucrat was his Holiness the Dali Lama.

This gentle, non-violent, wise and honorable man is now, according to the Chinese government, an international terrorist. And if the Dalai Lama can be defined as a terrorist then I’m proud to be a terrorist also."

Seems like the power dynamic is always the same: if an activist points out the wrong-doing of some dominant power structure like a government or a major corporation, then they get labeled an antisocial terrorist. What garbage. The whole world is rooting for Sea Shepherd.

Tourism Deserts Baringo As Lakes Dry Up, Once Home For Over 10,000 Crocodiles (Kenya)

Daily Nation, (Kenya) By BENJAMIN OUMA and WYCLIFFE KIPSANG, 6/27/09

Lake goes dry: A crocodile carcass lies on the dry bed of Lake Kamnarok in Baringo North District as cattle graze on. The lake, covering 13.5square kilometers, was the second largest in holding capacity of crocodiles in Africa, after Lake Chad and was a habitat for over 10,000 crocodiles but is now dry due to prolonged drought. Some crocodiles died as a result of the drought while others migrated to the nearby Rivers Kerio and Endao. PHOTO/ JARED NYATAYA

They cut down every tree in sight, burnt charcoal with abandon and made a living by selling firewood.

Now, mother nature has hit back and residents of Baringo are ruing the destruction of one of the area’s most important natural assets.

Lake Kamnarok, which was once home to more than 15,000 crocodiles, has dried up. All the hundreds of elephants that used to inhabit the nearby game reserve have fled from the area to the Rimoi Game Reserve in the neighboring Keiyo district, dealing a crippling blow to the local tourism industry.

And the disruption in the local ecological balance has seen rivers dry up and led to the death of numerous animals. Illegal logging.

The District Forest Officer, Daniel Too, describes the situation as grave, saying locals have resisted efforts to prevent illegal logging. He says 10 vehicles were impounded at police checkpoints in the area ferrying tree products last month.

Morop, Seretunin and Pemwai forests, which have streams that feed Kirandich dam and Lake Kamnarok, are the most affected.

“If the illegal logging continues at this rate, we shall soon lose all the water catchments, which will subsequently lead to the drying up of Kirandich dam as well,” warned Mr Too. Officials say people residing in the Tugen hills in the area still rely on charcoal burning, a trend which has worsened the situation. In the nearby Marakwet hills, where Embobut forest used to be, the situation is the same, with trees disappearing at a fast rate.

The government tried to evict squatters there last month, but their MP, Mrs Linah Jebii Kilimo, intervened and urged the squatters to stay put.

Mrs Kilimo’s intervention was not taken kindly by the people living in the Kerio Valley downstream, who blame the Embobut forest squatters for the dry river beds and their dying cattle.

The Kerio Valley residents have now threatened to march uphill to forcibly evict the squatters from the forest, if the police are unable to do so. But local leaders have urged the government to step in to avert a confrontation.

The outgoing Baringo district environment officer, Juma Masakha, blames the environmental disaster on human activity in the reserve and the nearby Tugen and Embobut hills.

“The only lasting solution is to evict people living near the reserve,” he says. Lack of vegetation on the hills means all the soil has been carried down to the lake, filling it up gradually.

“De-silting the lake would be too expensive for the council. It is a pity that the people are now pleading for help from the government, yet they are the ones who brought this disaster upon themselves,” says Mr Masakha, who has been transferred to Trans Nzoia. The dried-up lake represents dramatic evidence of the environmental catastrophe that has unfolded. Lake Kamnarok was the centrepiece attraction of Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve, which lies about 50 km from Kabarnet town.

It is an expansive 87 square-kilometre piece of land that used to draw plenty of tourists. The lake itself measures about one square kilometer. When we visited the game reserve last week, we drove right to the middle of what used to be a lake. And all we found was a barren, broken piece of caked earth, a few emaciated cattle and goats, and several crocodile carcasses.

A small boy tending goats showed us some bushes on the other side of the lake and indicated that there were more crocodile carcasses there.

No tourist was in sight, meaning Baringo Municipal Council, trustees of the Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve, no longer receives the about Sh3 million it earned from the reserve every month.

The lake was gazetted in June 1983 by the ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. It used to support thousands of crocodiles, elephants and 14 other species of mammals. The lake is now dead.

Locals say they are stunned by the development. A woman who said she ordinarily fetched water from the edge of the lake now has to walk with a water container and dig into the soil, upon which water seeps through and she fetches enough to fill her container. Legend has it that the lake last dried up in 1904.

The lack of rain in Baringo has reduced residents to a life of searching for wild fruit, and hoping that the relief food truck makes more trips to the vast Kerio Valley.

The wild fruit will not last for long; the skies are still a clear blue and despair is setting in. A few residents claim they know one or two people who have died of hunger.

“The fruit season is coming to an end, and we wonder what our people will eat in the next one month,” says the Kolowa ward civic leader, Mr Francis Kositet. Wild fruit

The elderly are most affected by the drought as they cannot walk long distances to search for the wild fruit. Children have been pulled out of school to help in the search for wild fruit, and to help walk the emaciated cattle through the dry river beds and the badly eroded terrain in search of water and pasture.

The Baringo County Council clerk, Mr Nicholas Kalela, says that all the tourists who used to visit the Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve now flock to the neighboring Rimoi Game Reserve in Keiyo District, which still has some water and food for the elephants.

It’s Time to Learn From Frogs

By Nichloas D. Kristof, 6/28/09, Op-ed Page New York Times.

Some of the first eerie signs of a potential health catastrophe came as bizarre deformities in water animals, often in their sexual organs.

Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians began to sprout extra legs. In heavily polluted Lake Apopka, one of the largest lakes in Florida, male alligators developed stunted genitals.

In the Potomac watershed near Washington, male smallmouth bass have rapidly transformed into “intersex fish” that display female characteristics. This was discovered only in 2003, but the latest survey found that more than 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Potomac are producing eggs.

Now scientists are connecting the dots with evidence of increasing abnormalities among humans, particularly large increases in numbers of genital deformities among newborn boys. For example, up to 7 percent of boys are now born with undescended testicles, although this often self-corrects over time. And up to 1 percent of boys in the United States are now born with hypospadias, in which the urethra exits the penis improperly, such as at the base rather than the tip.

Apprehension is growing among many scientists that the cause of all this may be a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. They are very widely used in agriculture, industry and consumer products. Some also enter the water supply when estrogens in human urine — compounded when a woman is on the pill — pass through sewage systems and then through water treatment plants.

These endocrine disruptors have complex effects on the human body, particularly during fetal development of males.

“A lot of these compounds act as weak estrogen, so that’s why developing males — whether smallmouth bass or humans — tend to be more sensitive,” said Robert Lawrence, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s scary, very scary.”

The scientific case is still far from proven, as chemical companies emphasize, and the uncertainties for humans are vast. But there is accumulating evidence that male sperm count is dropping and that genital abnormalities in newborn boys are increasing. Some studies show correlations between these abnormalities and mothers who have greater exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy, through everything from hair spray to the water they drink.

Endocrine disruptors also affect females. It is now well established that DES, a synthetic estrogen given to many pregnant women from the 1930s to the 1970s to prevent miscarriages, caused abnormalities in the children. They seemed fine at birth, but girls born to those women have been more likely to develop misshaped sexual organs and cancer.

There is also some evidence from both humans and monkeys that endometriosis, a gynecological disorder, is linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors. Researchers also suspect that the disruptors can cause early puberty in girls.

A rush of new research has also tied endocrine disruptors to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, in both animals and humans. For example, mice exposed in utero even to low doses of endocrine disruptors appear normal at first but develop excess abdominal body fat as adults.

Among some scientists, there is real apprehension at the new findings — nothing is more terrifying than reading The Journal of Pediatric Urology — but there hasn’t been much public notice or government action.

This month, the Endocrine Society, an organization of scientists specializing in this field, issued a landmark 50-page statement. It should be a wake-up call.

“We present the evidence that endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology,” the society declared.

“The rise in the incidence in obesity,” it added, “matches the rise in the use and distribution of industrial chemicals that may be playing a role in generation of obesity.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving toward screening endocrine disrupting chemicals, but at a glacial pace. For now, these chemicals continue to be widely used in agricultural pesticides and industrial compounds. Everybody is exposed.

“We should be concerned,” said Dr. Ted Schettler of the Science and Environmental Health Network. “This can influence brain development, sperm counts or susceptibility to cancer, even where the animal at birth seems perfectly normal.”

The most notorious example of water pollution occurred in 1969, when the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire and helped shock America into adopting the Clean Water Act. Since then, complacency has taken hold.

Those deformed frogs and intersex fish — not to mention the growing number of deformities in newborn boys — should jolt us once again.

Sea turtles are endangered all over the world but yet the US government wants to "roll back" protections in the Pacific. Read all about it here.

Check out this article from this National Park Service website about a 100+ year old Eastern Box Turtle that was found in 2002 in New York State! It seems that our little friends live much longer than previously thought so keep that in mind the next time you meet one while hiking or driving along.


Centenarian Turtle Found In Park

A 100-year-old eastern box turtle was discovered September 16, at the William Floyd Estate, a mainland unit of the Fire Island National Seashore in New York. The box turtle was a study specimen of renowned naturalist John Treadwell "J.T." Nichols, who is credited with discovering the homing instincts and the home range of box turtles.

Working cooperatively with the National Park Service, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society found the centenarian turtle during a biological inventory of the park. The inventory was funded in part by the Natural Resource Challenge, a major effort to substantially improve how the NPS manages the natural resources under its care. One of the initiatives of the Challenge is a multi-year effort by the National Park Service to document the presence, abundance, and distribution of species in the National Park System and to help park managers make informed natural resource management decisions.

Researchers recaptured the turtle known as JN21/21, which was originally captured and marked by Nichols in 1921. JN21/21 was approximately 20 years old at the time making him the oldest known turtle at the William Floyd Estate. Park staff recaptured JN21/21 again in 1991.

Nichols marked each turtle by etching his initials, the date, and a number into the plastron, the hard coating that protects a turtle's underside, with a penknife. Nichols began monitoring box turtles in the area surrounding the William Floyd Estate in 1914 and wrote prolifically about their habits. He continued to monitor the turtles until his death in 1958, and his field notes indicate that he captured approximately 1,000 individual box turtles on the property. Both the National Park Service and the American Museum of Natural History in New York have copies of his field notes. The William Floyd Estate became a detached unit of Fire Island National Seashore in 1965. The National Park Service manages the grounds as a cultural landscape, maintaining the fields, forest, ponds and marsh.

Nichols wrote 1,000 articles and books on nature and traveled the globe. He paid his children five cents for each marked turtle and three cents for each unmarked turtle they collected while he was away from the estate. The turtles were kept in the window wells of the estate until Nichols return when he marked them and then released the turtles at the estate's flagpole. From his studies he determined that turtles have strong homing instincts and that their home range is approximately 220-yard diameter.

The turtle inventory ceased after Nichol's death until NPS Ranger Rich Stavdal began working at the estate in 1980. "Almost immediately I found a turtle marked by Nichols. Since then I've found 17 of his and marked over 680." Stavdal continues to monitor box turtles, but for the first time a full amphibian and reptile inventory was conducted this year with help from the Natural Resource Challenge program.

Wildlife Conservation Society researchers inventoried amphibians and reptiles at the William Floyd Estate for a six-month period. The scientists captured approximately 30 box turtles, bringing the marked population to more than 700. Wildlife Biologist Robert Cook, a box turtle expert at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts said the goal of conducting inventories is to document the presence, abundance, and distribution of species. One of the fundamental missions of the National Park Service is to maintain native wildlife. Information gathered during the inventory will help to preserve and protect species through informed natural resource management, Cook said.

Researchers conduct systematic inventories using established methods, such as placing plywood and metal sheet "cover boards" on the property to attract amphibians and reptiles, searching for them under logs and brush and using live-traps, and other techniques. Inventories are important for documenting rare and important species and the habitats they depend on and provide a base-line for future monitoring of species populations. As a result of the inventory the presence of four-toed salamanders was documented for the first time on the estate grounds.

According to Stavdal the age of a turtle can be estimated by the presence of growth rings on the turtle's plastron and the condition of the rings. If Nichols hadn't marked JN21/21 researchers might have been fooled by the turtle's youthful appearance because JN21/21's rings were only slightly worn. Nichols' field notes indicate the turtle was about the same size when he found him more than 80 years ago. "We joked about JN21/21 not looking a day over 50," said Stavdal adding, "We could be handling turtles that are much older than we think."

According to Stavdal, Nichols' observations about turtles' home range appear to be true because turtles are being found 60 to 70 years later in the same location as Nichols found them.

According to Stavdal and Cook, the Floyd Estate represents the Northeast landscape 100 to 200 years ago. "A lot of the Northeast was agriculture. Now the park units that preserve areas as agricultural land are surrounded by developments and suburbanization," Cook said. The estate was cleared for agriculture and used as a plantation in 1724. The Floyd family later stopped farming, and only used the estate for a home in the country allowing a second-growth forest to emerge.

In 1938 a hurricane struck Long Island, New York, and New England. Trees throughout the Northeast were devastated. According to historical records the storm killed 700 people, destroyed 8,900 homes and buildings, left 63,000 homeless, had winds at 121 mph and storm surge at 17 feet over high tide, and toppled approximately two billion trees.

During the 1930s and 40s a series of wildfires burned through the area. In the 1950s and 60s the fields were reclaimed to provide hunting for family members. JN21/21 survived everything. "He has seen more than any of us. He lived through the '38 hurricane," Stavdal said.

What concerns the National Park Service more than the turtle's ability to survive hurricanes and fires is its ability to survive in habitat surrounded by roads, subdivisions, and backyards, said Cook.

According to Cook, "This underscores the importance of monitoring the species over time. Without monitoring we would not be able to detect the effects of landscape changes on wildlife. Having monitoring programs that look at animal populations and the habitat they are in is a good way of putting the National Park Service in a position to know what happens to its wildlife as the landscape changes," Cook said.

Maintaining the estate's turtle population isn't always easy and requires staff members to be sensitive to the needs of the park's resources. Fields are mown during periods of inactivity such as hibernation and during dry weather when the turtles retreat to the woods. "The importance is to understand their seasonal movements so we don't impact them," Stavdal said.>

Although the turtle population at the estate appears stable, predators concern park natural resource managers. Park units that are located in suburban areas throughout the Northeast are experiencing an increase in raccoons and skunks, which are nest raiders. Because raccoons and skunks can gain easy access to food supplies from sources such as garbage they become subsidized predators and their numbers are increasing. Even though skunks, raccoons, and turtles have coexisted for thousands of years the natural balance can change when predator populations reach unnaturally high levels. Turtles are slow reproducers and lay just six to eight eggs per year and they are especially vulnerable until they develop a hard shell to protect them.

It is difficult to tell how many turtles are leaving the property in the hands of visitors, Stavdal said. Those who remove turtles from the estate are not only removing a natural resource they are removing part of a historical collection. It is violation of federal law to harass or remove wildlife from a national park.

The release of turtles that aren't part of the estate's turtles' gene pool concerns park managers. Releasing foreign turtles at the park may affect the estates historical turtle gene pool and put turtles not genetically prepared for harsh winters in jeopardy of death, said Cook. Many people don't realize that if they find a box turtle in Virginia and release it in New York that they have brought the animal to a place where it will be subjected to weather and other environmental factors that the turtle is not prepared for. "Their ancestors never experienced those conditions. Turtles are frequently moved and let go with good intentions, but often not with good results," Cook said.

Because of Nichols, Stavdal, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the National Park Service has access to inventory information gathered for more than 80 years at the William Floyd Estate. Funding provided by the Natural Resource Challenge has enabled continuing inventories and provides valuable information to park managers, helping them to protect our nation's heritage.

"Inventories help us with informed decision making, for example ensuring that roads don't get built through important habitats. You need to know what species are at a site so you can plan and operate a park without negatively affecting its plants and wildlife. The ultimate goal is to ensure the preservation of native species and natural processes," Cook said.

Cigarette Butts are Toxic Waste

SAN DIEGO, California. San Diego State University researchers say filter-tipped cigarette butts are toxic to marine and fresh-water fish. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce tells us they want those butts classified as hazardous waste.

SDSU Public Health Professor Tom Novotny and other members of the Cigarette Butt Advisory Group plan to recommend that filtered cigarette butts should have new requirements for disposal. They say the toxic waste in the butts harms wildlife and the environment.

"It is toxic at rather low concentrations," Novotny said. "Even one butt in a liter of water can kill the fish in a period of 96 hours."

The recommendation is based on new research from SDSU Public Health Professor Rick Gersberg. A cigarette butt is a combination of a plastic filter and the remnants of a smoked cigarette. The filter is non-biodegradable, and the tobacco remnant is toxic until it biodegrades into the environment. What remains in the filter are residues, tars, and particulates.

Novotny says cigarette butts are the number one littered substance in the world, with several years as the number one single item picked up on beach cleanup days in San Diego and elsewhere.

"When they unconsciously throw their butts onto the ground, it's not just litter, it's a toxic hazardous waste product," Novotny said. "And that's what we're trying to say. So that may be regulated at the local or state level. And we hope people will be more conscious about what they do with these cigarette butts."

He says stronger enforcement of non-smoking areas and anti-litter laws could help reduce the butts. Other policies could include fines, waste fees or taxes to pay for recycling or making manufacturers pay for cleanup costs.

Source: Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

Above photo from

Earthshine staff naturalist Steve O'Neil says that even though most nations of the world oppose whaling for any purpose, some nations still continue to kill whales and other endangered sea life under the guise of "research." This meat then ends up on the menu in the countries where whaling is still taking place. Steve believes that this is an appalling practice and that it must to stop. This is why Steve totally supports the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who physically opposes the whale poachers of the world and goes to great lengths to stop them from killing the last whales. If you too believe that whaling is an out dated practice that is not needed in today's world then please take a look at...

Sea Shepherd's website

...and maybe, like Steve, you will decide to support Sea Shepherd in their Whale War against the whale poachers.

Whaleshark photo from

Sharks of all species--even the docile and harmless whaleshark pictured above--are facing extinction due to overfishing for the shark fin soup market. Please do not eat shark steaks or shark fin soup or buy products made from shark such as sharks teeth, shark jaws, shark cartilage products and supplements or shark liver oil. Buying these products only contributes to the extinction of these beautiful and most important animals. Please watch the wonderful documentary-movie "Sharkwater" --it will open your eyes and hearts to the terribly misunderstood world of the shark. You can watch the movie on youtube or purchase it online on the Sharkwater website and watch it in high definition.


Sourse: Sea Shepherd's website.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Victory for the Sharks: Sea Shepherd

Persuades Holista to Cease All Production of Shark Cartilage Products!

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has recently been consulting with Holista Health Inc. about the severe negative impacts of Shark Cartilage products on the health of our oceans. Holista sells health supplements on a large scale in stores across Canada and the United States, including Costco, Shoppers Drug Mart, WalMart, and more.

Last week, after providing Holista with some educational materials on the plight of sharks and their vital importance to ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd urged its supporters to join in and voice their concerns to the management of Holista. In an outpouring of support, hundreds of shark-loving consumers contacted Holista to express their passion for sharks and respectfully request the removal of all Shark Cartilage products from Holista's product line.

Thanks to an overwhelming barrage of polite feedback from Sea Shepherd supporters and members of ARK II, Holista has chosen to establish itself as a leader in the industry by ceasing all production of shark cartilage products!

In Holista's own words:

"[W]e have consulted with various conservation groups who have provided us with valuable insight around this critical issue."

"[W]e have come to the conclusion that any harvesting of sharks creates a potential for ecological harm."

"It is for this reason that Holista has ceased purchasing Shark Cartilage raw materials and will no longer be producing Shark Cartilage products. It is our hope that this decision will contribute to the necessary global moratorium required on the harvesting on sharks."

It has not yet been determined whether Holista plans to pull existing Shark Cartilage products from its website and/or store shelves, or whether it will finish selling existing stocks. As such, it is unknown how long it will take for Holista to fully phase out its Shark Cartilage products. Holista has stated that it intends to update its website soon and will likely include some form of notification there to demonstrate its commitment to the issue. In the meantime, please join us in wishing Holista a smooth and speedy transition!

Sea Shepherd applauds Holista for making a compassionate and shark-friendly decision. In doing so, Holista has demonstrated that it listens to customer feedback and values the health of the oceans, setting itself apart from its competitors.

Please write to Holista today to voice your gratitude and to praise Holista's management team for the prompt and permanent removal of Shark Cartilage capsules from its product line!

Please call, fax, email, and/or mail your comments to the following:

Holista Health Inc.

2000 Brigantine Drive

Coquitlam, BC V3K 7B5


Toll Free Telephone: 1-800-204-4372

Toll Free Fax: 1-888-668-4252

You may also submit comments via the contact form on Holista's own website.

Four things EVERYONE needs to know about sharks.

Sourse: Whysharksmatter on the blog.

2009 May 10

WhySharksMatter: "While I could talk forever about why sharks matter (I am, as frequent readers know, literally writing a book about the topic), there are a few things that I would like for everyone to know. I do mean EVERYONE. I know that my blog posts reach a pretty small percentage of the world’s population, but some of you guys are pretty passionate about protecting the oceans. Please tell a friend. Please tell your parents. Please tell your children. Please tell your teachers, please tell your students, please tell your classmates. You get the idea… I really would like for EVERYONE to know these few important facts about sharks. I fervently believe that sharks are threatened today because the majority of the world doesn’t know that they are important, and not because the majority of the world wishes them ill, and that public education on a massive scale is key to saving these animals. I can’t do it without you.

1) Sharks do not represent a serious threat to human beings. Yes, some people have died as a result of shark encounters, and any human death is a tragedy, but it is important to keep in mind the relative risk of a shark attack. Of the over 500 species of sharks worldwide, fewer than a dozen have ever been known to kill a human. In an average year, over 650,000 Americans die as a result of heart disease, giving me a 1 in 5 chance of dying of heart disease in my lifetime. In an average year, over 550,000 Americans die from cancer, giving me a 1 in 7 chance of dying from cancer in my lifetime. In an average year, over 40,000 Americans die in car accidents, giving me a 1 in 84 chance of dying in a car accident in my lifetime. In an average year, 1 American dies from a shark attack, giving me a 1 in 3,748,067 chance of dying from a shark attack in my lifetime. Again, any human death is a tragedy, but when you have a 1 in 5 chance of dying from heart disease and a 1 in 4 million chance of dying from a shark attack, should we really be so concerned about the threat to us that sharks represent? Millions of Americans spend time in the oceans each year. Sharks have been evolving incredible sensory systems, part of what makes them such incredible hunters, for over 400 million years. They can also swim a great deal faster than we can. If they wanted to attack humans, a lot more than one American a year would be killed by a shark. Sharks are simply not a serious threat to us. If this guy wanted to hurt you, you couldn't outswim him

2) Sharks are important to the health of the oceans. Without them, many ocean ecosystems, including several that are vital to the economy, are in danger of collapsing. This collapse would have devastating ecological and economic consequences… and some of these consequences have already started to happen. In addition to providing natural selection pressure and allowing only the fittest to survive by preying upon the weakest, sickest, and smallest fish, sharks are also important to marine ecosystems in other ways.

In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, tiger shark populations have declined over 97% since 1972. One of their prey items, the cownose ray, has skyrocketed in population without tiger sharks to eat them. These cownose rays eat scallops… and with so many more rays, the scallop population of the Outer Banks has all but collapsed. This is bad news not only for the numerous other organisms that eat scallops, but also for the thousands of people who used to work as scallop fisherman.

A similar event took place in Tasmania. Massive declines in shark populations led to an increase in octopus populations, since there are so many fewer sharks preying on them. These octopus eat, among other things, Tasmanian rock lobsters. The Tasmanian rock lobster fishery is now almost completely gone.

A more complex shark decline related ecosystem destabilization, this one taking place in coral reefs, has led to a decrease in algae-grazing parrotfish populations… and a huge increase in algae. Algae in the Caribbean is starting to take over reefs, killing coral. Coral reefs are home to thousands of unique species of fish and invertebrates, and they generate billions in ecotourism dollars worldwide. This algae takeover is one of the biggest threats facing coral reefs, and food chain destabilization as a result of shark population declines is one of the biggest causes of algae takeover. Losses of sharks are directly related to the destruction of coral reefs.

3) Sharks are in serious trouble. Many shark species have declined in population over 90% in the last 25 years. Bycatch is one of the biggest threats facing sharks. While fishing for other species, sharks are caught by accident and are killed.

Another major threat facing sharks is finning. Sharks of many species are caught, their fins are cut off, and the still-living rest of the shark (far less valuable than the fin) is dumped overboard to bleed to death or drown. This brutal and unsustainable practice provides material for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy associated with celebration. The fins, which are made of cartilage, add absolutely no flavor or nutritional value whatsoever to the soup. By some estimates, over 100 million sharks a year are killed for their fins.

4)Human beings are better off with sharks than we are without sharks, and we are in danger of losing them forever… but you can help! The absolute most important thing that you can do to help, you are already doing just by reading this. Learn all you can about sharks, their ecological and economic importance, and the threats they face. Pass on what you have learned to others. Public education will help far more sharks than these guys ever will. The more people that know about this, the better off sharks will be!

If we teach people about sharks, we can save them!"


The Seal Hunt is Dead! Long Live the Seals!

Source: Sea Shepherd's website.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has lost a ship but we are winning the war to save the seals.

On Friday, the European ambassadors approved a European Union proposal to ban imports of furs and all seal products. This moves the 27-nation bloc much closer to the final decision to impose the ban and final approval now is really only a formality.

Canada and Norway are threatening a trade war with Europe but Canada needs trade with Europe far more than Europe needs seal products. Canadians in the non-barbaric industries will not have much patience in losing profits in defense of the slaughter of seals.

Canada and Norway are threatening to take Europe before the World Trade Organization.

However, "Nothing should now stand in the way of this ban being adopted," said an official from the EU's Czech presidency, which brokered a deal this week that will exclude hunts by Inuits. "It needs to go before the European Parliament in May, but that should be a formality because parliament negotiators have already agreed to it informally," the official added.

Canada, Greenland and Namibia account for around 60 percent of the 900,000 seals hunted each year.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere wrote to EU trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton this month arguing that the ban broke the principle of free trade and set a dangerous precedent on the harvesting of renewable resources.

A European official said the Commission believed the plan was "legally sound".

The 15 seal species now hunted are not endangered but European politicians demanded action after finding what they said was evidence that many are skinned while still conscious. The animals are usually first shot or bludgeoned over the head with a spiked club known as a hakapik.

Russia banned the hunting of baby harp seals last month, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called it a "bloody industry".

The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat was seized by the Canadian government in an act of piracy in April 2008 and was auctioned off with secret bids this month without the ship ever having been arrested, charged with any offence, without a court hearing, without a summons and without due process of law.

Apparently the ship was auctioned off on April 21st, but the government has not released any information on who the ship will be given to. Sea Shepherd intends to take legal action against the buyer on the grounds that the Farley Mowat is the property of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was never legally forfeited.

Sea Shepherd officers Captain Alex Cornelissen and 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt were charged with the "crime" of breaking the Seal Protection Regulations by documenting and witnessing the killing of seal pups.

They are scheduled to appear in court on April 27th but Canadian Immigration officials ordered them deported last April and informed them they are inadmissible to re-enter Canada.

"This is very convenient," said Captain Paul Watson. "Canada will be able to seize $10,000 in bail money and will avoid the embarrassment of the trial and they will accuse our crew of refusing to appear. But they can't appear in court in Canada if they are not allowed to enter Canada."

However despite the hassles and the loss of a ship that the Society was going to retire anyway, the publicity generated by last year's campaign to oppose the sealers helped in convincing the European Parliament to ban seal products and thus the trade-off was well worth the expense and the inconvenience.

"Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war," Said Captain Watson

Meanwhile Canadian politicians are spouting threats and whining like cowardly Nazi's in a bunker as the waves of civilized reform crashes down on the barbaric mindset that has for so long endorsed and applauded the grossly inhumane and savage slaughter of one of the most innocent creatures on the planet - the baby seals.

"These cruel and sadistic baby killers have had their day," Said Captain Watson. "The price of seal pelts has fallen to their lowest levels and soon this obscene industry will go the way of the slave trade, cock-fighting, bear-baiting, and child labour - in short it will go extinct and all of us who have fought our entire lives for this great victory will be grateful for the European nations for realizing this wonderful dream. The seal hunt is dead - long live the seals"

Please help save Steve's Place!

It is still in danger of strip mining.

From the Save Steve's Place website: "The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR) is a wetland conservation property and a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. The 135,000 ha (hectare) property, in Queensland's Cape York Peninsula in Australia, is home to a set of three important spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife. The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is being threatened by strip mining. Cape Alumina Pty Ltd has lodged mining lease applications which include approximately 12,300 ha of the Reserve. Cape Alumina company documents indicate an intention to mine 50 plus million tons over a 10 year period commencing 2010. The greater part of this mine is on the SIWR. The proposed area for mining on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve contains the head waters of irreplaceable waterways and unique biodiversity which will not recover after mining operations are finished."

Please consider signing the petition below to stop the mining operation and save Steve's Place then send the link on to all your friends--thanks.


Thank You!

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Shut Down for Sea Turtles

Source: MSNBC, April 29, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - In a move to protect sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, federal regulators announced Wednesday they are restricting a fishing technique used to catch red grouper in waters off the Florida west coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the use of long fishing lines with hooks and squid bait would be banned from May 18 to Oct. 18, when sea turtles feed in the warm Florida coastal waters.

The ban comes after studies showed that as many as 1,000 sea turtles were being snagged every 18 months in longline gear. The practice involves baiting lines and laying them on the bottom of the ocean bottom. Of the 1,000 sea turtles caught, scientists estimate that about 800 were loggerheads, a threatened species.

Roy Crabtree, NOAA's southeast regional administrator for fisheries, said the ban was a temporary solution and that the agency was working with fishermen and conservationists to come up with a more permanent fix.

"I hope we can identify options that not only provide sea turtles the protection they need, but minimize the economic affects to the fishing industry," Crabtree said.

There are about 100 boats in the Gulf that use the long-line gear to catch red grouper and most of those dock in the Tampa Bay area. About 7 million pounds of red grouper are caught a year for about $8 million in dockside revenues.

Glen Brooks, the president of the Gulf Fishermen's Association and a long-line fisherman in Cortez, Fla., said the ban threatens his industry and the hundreds of fish-house workers, truckers and deckhands that rely on it.

"This may not be something anyone can recover from," Brooks said.

Regulators are looking at cutting the fleet of long-line boats and banning the long-line gear during the prime feeding months for sea turtles between June and August.

Crabtree said studies this summer would determine what to do. The temporary ban was praised by conservationists.

"This is going to be a major benefit to sea turtles, especially the loggerheads that are threatened with extinction," said David L. Allison, a senior campaign director at Oceana. "This is a prime feeding area for sea turtles that nest all the way up to the Carolinas."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Sea Turtles receive more help in Costa Rica

United States Bans Shrimp From Costa Rica To Protect Sea Turtles

Source: 5/609 - San José, Costa Rica, Press Release

The US Department of State`s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science imposed a trade embargo on all Costa Rican shrimp exports to the US, effective as of May 1. The embargo is due to Costa Rica's failure to enforce its laws that require commercial shrimp fishers to protect sea turtles from capture and death in trawl nets by using Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).

According to a report issued by the State Department, the decision to embargo Costa Rica was the result of a multi-year investigation that involved certification visits and data compiled from credible third-party sources. The evidence points out how Costa Rica's Fishery Institute (Incopesca), didn't "provide sanctions for TED violations that served as an effective deterrent against the failure to use TEDs".

"Incopesca has been extremely negligent", denounced Andy Bystrom of Pretoma, a Costa Rican NGO that has worked on TED issues since 1997. "In meetings with the State Department in December 2008, Incopesca was warned that Costa Rica`s shrimp could be embargoed, to which the officers responded that they would resolve the problem in early 2009, but they haven't done a thing".

Costa Rica was the only country whose shrimp was embargoed by the US. The 15 nations that retain their hold on the US shrimp market are: Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Suriname, and Venezuela.

"This is Costa Rica`s 4th shrimp embargo since 1999, which comes to prove that a long term official policy has been to ignore domestic TED regulations and allow the needles massacre of thousands of sea turtles, drowned by industrial shrimp trawlers", said Randall Arauz, President of Pretoma. "Our concern now is the rest of the Central American countries where shrimp trawling occurs, as TED regulations are not strictly enforced anywhere in the region".

"Shrimp fishers non-compliance with TED laws is a chronic problem occurring throughout the world", said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, in Forest Knolls, CA ( TIRN is also in negotiations with the U. S.government after submitting a 60-day notice of intent to sue the US Department of State for its failure to create a meaningful and transparent process of evaluating nations to ensure proper protection of sea turtles in shrimp fishing under Public Law 101-162 section 609 of the U. S. Endangered Species Act. This provision requires nations exporting shrimp to the US to use comparable technology to ensure sea turtles do not drown in shrimp nets.

Copy of 60 day Notice of Intent

Para más información: Pretoma/ 2241 5227/Costa Rica

Dog Helps Search For Endangered Sea Turtle Nests

Sourse: Elaine Marsilio, Scripps Howard News Service National 5/1/09

Turtle Patrol members spent five hours searching for a Kemp's ridley sea turtle nest.

They found tracks of an endangered turtle, but winds blew away part of the trail to the nest.

They dug, but couldn't find it.

Then they called in a 2-year-old who has a nose for this business.

Ridley, a Cairn terrier, found it within minutes. The result: 101 eggs to be incubated and 92 hatchlings later returned to the wild. That nest on June 7, 2007, is one of two located by the now-30-pound, 3-year-old terrier.

Ridley's owners, Donna Shaver and Stephen Kurtz, began training him for this work when he was a puppy.

Shaver, the National Seashore's sea turtle science and recovery division director, said she thought to train Ridley in 2005 when she realized it was difficult to track nesting sea turtles on windy days.

Shaver and Kurtz trained Ridley as a puppy to sniff for dog treats around their Padre Island house.

His training quickly progressed to sniffing out empty sea turtle nests on the beach, discarded turtle egg shells and hatchlings so he could recognize the scent, Shaver said.

The couple uses keywords, such as "nest" or "find," with Ridley so he can hone in on his search objectives, said Kurtz, who also is a Turtle Patrol volunteer.

That training has landed Ridley an on-call gig assisting the Turtle Patrol when humans can't locate nests.

Patrol members typically locate a nest by seeing the turtle, or by following tracks and then sifting through sand with a pole or digging with their hands, Shaver said.

Finding nests is a crucial endeavor because Kemp's ridley sea turtles are endangered, and the eggs can fall prey to coyotes or raccoons, or wash away with high tides, Shaver said.

"We just don't want to go away empty-handed," Shaver said.

That's where Ridley comes in.

"He can do things, of course, humans can't do ... his nose takes over," Kurtz said.

Jill Marie O'Brien, co-founder of the National Canine Scent Work Association, said a dog's nose is its biggest asset, allowing it to detect almost anything.

"If it has an odor and that odor can be identified, you can teach the dog to locate it," she said.

"The dog's nose is like a machine," O'Brien said. "Nature has created something that human beings can't duplicate artificially."

And it's work that dogs like because it's an outlet for natural habits such as sniffing or digging.

"Detection dogs are usually some of the happiest dogs you'll see," she said.

Kurtz, who usually handles Ridley on searches, said Ridley displays his excitement before a search by sitting in Kurtz's lap as he drives his Jeep Cherokee along the beach.

At times, Ridley even places his paws on the steering wheel, Kurtz said.

"That's just Ridley," he said with a laugh. "If I let him, he would ride on the hood."

Ridley even likes the pay: a pat, some praise and the occasional piece of antelope jerky.

Weird Wildlife News

Man Finds Snake Head In His Broccoli

By Tim O’Brien, Alban Times Union, - 5/7/09

Clifton Park, NY. -- The sight of a severed snake's head under his broccoli made Jack Pendleton lose interest in dessert.

Pendleton said he found the head, the size of the end of his thumb, while eating Sunday at the T.G.I. Friday's in Clifton Park. The chain restaurant said it regrets the appetite-killing error. Pendleton said he has no plans to sue.

Pendleton said he ordered vegetables instead of fries with his chicken sandwich. When he started to eat his broccoli, he saw something gray on the plate he at first thought was a mushroom. "I start to turn it over. I see this gray-green patch," he said.

Next he saw a V-shape that turned out to be the mouth of a snake. "I could see these black, rotted eye sockets on the top," he said. The severed head also had bits of tendon and part of the spine attached, he said.

"I stopped eating. I told my girlfriend, 'I think this is a head,'" he said.

Pendleton snapped a photo with his cellphone camera, then summoned the waiter. He covered the dish with his hand and described his find.

"He thought I was joking until I took my hand away," Pendleton said. The waiter grabbed the plate and took it back to the kitchen, the diner said.

"The manager came over white as a sheet," said Pendleton, 28, of Ballston Lake, a senior art director for a textbook company in Clifton Park. "He explained in five years he'd never run into anything like this."

Amy Freshwater, a spokeswoman for the chain, said in an e-mailed statement the company is trying to determine what happened.

"We are taking this situation very seriously," she said. "We immediately pulled the broccoli from this restaurant and began an extensive investigation. As a precautionary measure, we pulled broccoli from all restaurants that received product from this supplier. We have since isolated the specific lot date of the broccoli in question and have now reintroduced the product in all restaurants not included in the product hold."

The supplier has been contacted to begin its own investigation, she said. "We are sending the object to an independent laboratory for testing," Freshwater said in the statement. "We have very strict and thorough safety and sanitation procedures and regret that this situation occurred in one of our restaurants."

The couple were given their meals without charge and offered the name of a regional manager, which Pendleton said he declined. He said he advised the manager he should check the kitchen to make sure the rest of the snake wasn't in someone elses meal. He also told the manager the head should have been found when the vegetables were harvested or, if it crawled into a box, before it made it into his meal.

Pendleton said he filed a complaint through the restaurant's Web site but has no plans to sue. He tried to contact the Saratoga County Health Department, he said, but he could not find contact information on its Web site. His story also was posted on the Web site the Consumerist, under the headline "Snakes on a Plate."

He and his girlfriend had planned to attend a carnival after their meals, he said, but as he pulled into the lot he decided he didn't have the stomach to go on the rides.


By Lenka Macellari Zullivich January, 2009

San Antonio, Chile–Last night at 11 PM in San Antonio an olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) was confiscated, which was being kept inside the Fung-Lu Chinese restaurant located on Pedro Montt street.

The incident was first reported by a witness via telephone to an ad-honorem SAG game warden who alerted him that restaurant employees had carried a sea turtle into the establishment via the back door, even though the turtle was transported on a tray underneath a table cloth; however, its flippers remained uncovered, which allowed for its identification.

Confiscation procedure

After receiving the tip-off, the witness, along with the SAG game warden, called for back-up in order to enter the now closed establishment, though the back storage room and kitchen located on Mauricio Mena street remained open.

After arriving on the scene, police and game wardens spoke with the restaurant’s owner who vehemently denied having a sea turtle inside his establishment. Officials asked for permission to search the storage room and kitchen and were granted entrance by the owner.

After searching for a few short minutes, authorities located the turtle in a refrigerator and immediately identified it as an olive ridley, corresponding to be a female that was being refrigerated to keep it cold, but not frozen, and would have been promptly eaten as the restaurant had already seated a “reserved table” consisting of ten Asians.

The law breaker Hong Gao -of duel nationality, admitted to knowing about the turtle after it was found but said that while he was out, a friend had left it there. Despite his excuse, he was served a citation by the SAG game wardens and is now required to appear at SAG’s San Antonio office where he will be given a chance to present his case and receive the corresponding punishment for his flagrant offence, made possible by the action of the ad-honorem game wardens.

The turtle’s cruel and painful death was caused by various blows from a blunt object as its captures took it from the ocean.

Hong Gao’s, our country’s Chinese resident, citation details his possession of a marine reptile that’s protected under the CITES Law (International Convention on the Trafficking of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna), one that prohibits the capture, sale, or possession of part or all of an endangered specimen, legislation that’s enforced not just in certain countries but rather around the plant.

Marine turtle protection

Olive ridleys are the smallest of the six species of the world’s marine turtles. They can grow up to approximately 90 cms and have high, asymmetrical carapaces composed of five to seven lateral scales per side.

They get their name from their olive green carapace color and their geographic distribution in Chile is from Arica to Concepción, and most often found in the central zone, but their population has been considerably reduced. Their diet is based on the ingestion of algae, though occasionally they consume fish and some crustaceans and jellyfish.

Turtles throughout planet earth’s history have been highly successful, for they live long before the dinosaurs and only man has placed them in danger to almost the point on their disappearance, it’s because of this that protecting these species is of vital importance.