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THE DEBATE ABOUT SEA TURTLES IN CAPTIVITY CONTINUES
Monday 29th October 2012

On October 23, 2012, Caribarena.com published an article by Carol Williams regarding sea turtles in captivity. The text of that report is republished below.

'Antigua St. John's - The Coordinator of the Antigua Sea Turtle Conservation Project Mykal Clovis Fuller has weighed in on the long-running debate about whether sea turtles should be kept in captivity.

The issue was reignited by a recent report by an international agency that slammed the conditions on a farm in the Cayman Islands.

"There are a lot of issues with diseases and well being and development of sea turtles in captivity, which is why we favour protecting sea turtles in the wild here," Fuller said.

"The alternative is a captive environment which has been proven not very successful in other places, and this issue highlights that."

Just over a week ago the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) released a report on the government-run Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF), as well as video footage and photographs showing that thousands of the animals are kept in dirty, cramped tanks.

WSPA also claims that traces of Salmonella, E. Coli and Vibrio vulnificus* were found in the turtle touch tank waters, putting visitors at risk of contracting diseases.

Fuller, who has been operating the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) conservation project here since 2007, acknowledged that the issue of turtle conservation is controversial.

And she pointed to studies that have shown that as few as one in 3000 turtles will survive from the nest to adulthood.

"Many people often say why we do not raise them to give them a better chance," she noted.

"However, many seas turtles don't survive well in captivity and many turtles that are bred in captivity can't survive in the wild because their instincts have not developed well enough to feed themselves and that sort of thing ... so it doesn't solve the problem of having a healthy population," she pointed out.

Meantime, Fuller is reporting progress with the attitude of some residents to sea turtles, though she said a lot more needs to be done.

"We're still seeing developments too close to the coastline that the sea turtle use, and some bright lights … but we are seeing pockets of progress where we work with hotels. They're becoming a bit more responsive to the way they keep their beaches so that sea turtles would be able to nest there," she said.

"Generally in the wider community our work is done through volunteers, and more people are reporting sea turtle nesting, and people who walk on the beaches in the morning."

The EAG conservation project monitors sea turtle nesting on the beaches and promotes protection of sea turtle habitat.

Persons seeking information or to report on issues relating to turtles can contact the EAG at (268) 462 6236 or Fuller at (268) 720 6955.


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