Endangered green turtle caught in Tai Po returned to sea

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 4:32am

An endangered green turtle was returned to sea yesterday after being netted accidentally by a fisherman last month.

The adult female, in its 30s, was caught in Tai Po waters on December 14. The fisherman called the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which collected it within the day.

The turtle was taken to Ocean Park where a veterinary assessment showed it was in good condition, a department spokeswoman said. The park had taken care of it since then.

"After a period of recovery, the turtle weighed 60kg and its shell was 84cm in length. Its good condition suggested it was ready to be returned to sea," she said.

The animal was fitted with a microchip and tags for future identification. A satellite transmitter was also attached to the turtle's back before it was released in Sai Kung waters.

Green turtles are known for their migratory behaviour and loyalty to feeding sites and nesting grounds. Tracking efforts show they usually swim to Wanshan Archipelago, Fujian waters, the Pratas Islands, the Spratly Islands and the Philippines after visiting Hong Kong.

The species, which lives up to 80 years in the wild, are the most commonly seen of five sea turtle species here. It is the only species known to breed locally at Lamma Island's Sham Wan beach.

Meanwhile, the department said it had recorded a green turtle which laid five clutches of eggs - numbering more than 550 in total - at Sham Wan beach last summer.

After laying the last clutch of eggs in October, it left Hong Kong waters, heading towards its feeding ground in Vietnam.

But the department said there was no sign of hatchlings during the incubation period. One possibility was that the eggs were unfertilised, it said, adding that the same turtle had nested in Hong Kong in 2003 and 2008 before returning to Vietnam.