The Sea Turtle Conservancy has joined the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in their campaign for an end to sea turtle farming and, in particular, the closure of the Cayman Turtle Farm.
Wildlife activists urged the Cayman Islands on Thursday to permanently halt the farming of green sea turtles at a popular government-owned tourist attraction that has released thousands of juveniles into the sea and harvests some for meat.
The Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy joined the London-headquartered World Society for the Protection of Animals in a campaign to stop the Cayman Turtle Farm from farming green sea turtles, which is an endangered species that when fully grown can weigh 700 pounds (317 kilograms).
Conservancy director David Godfrey said in a statement that “it’s time to turn things around” at the roughly 40-year-old facility, which features captive breeding and research areas along with a lagoon where visitors can swim with sea turtles, “touch tanks” where children can pick up young turtles, and the biggest swimming pool on Grand Cayman.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy’s call comes more than two months after nearly 300 juvenile green sea turtles died at the facility in the Cayman Islands, where turtle steaks, fritters and soups are on local menus and the delicacy is considered part of the islands’ heritage. The farm, which had a total of some 5,000 turtles in January 2011, said the creatures died after a water line broke and reduced the water supply to several tanks.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals recently released a video and photographs purporting to show turtles in overcrowded, dirty tanks at the Cayman Turtle Farm. The group maintains that some of the sea turtles have resorted to cannibalism in their enclosures.
The turtle farm said it has methodically maintained the health and wellbeing of its turtles through established veterinarian treatment. It insists it has found no basis for what it called “sensational allegations” and remains focused on operating a unique tourism attraction that supports research and conservation of sea turtles.
Read more in the full Associated Press report.
Previously on Green Antilles: Animal welfare, conservation groups pound Cayman Turtle Farm.