A rare kind of turtle weighing about 25-kg was rescued and released alive in the Bay of Bengal at Sonarpara Fish Landing Centre at Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar

The giant Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) was rescued and released into its natural habitat on Monday (August 7, 2023) with the support of USAID’s ECOFISH II project team members and motivated volunteers. 

Dilruba Sharmin, communications specialist at the Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh Activity II (ECOFISH II) of WorldFish Bangladesh; confirmed the matter to the Bangladesh Post on Thursday.

A fisherman discovered the turtle trapped in a discarded floating gillnet, most likely from a boat that had been destroyed a few days before due to severe weather. He tried to rescue the turtle from the net, but shrimp hatchery employees grabbed it.

The intention was to find a potential buyer. They maintained the turtle through an oxygen supply so that a good price could be sought for the sale.

On information, USAID’s ECOFISH II Blue Guards (motivated volunteers who work for biodiversity conservation by beach cleaning, discarded net collection, etc.) at Sonarpara of Ukhiya visited the hatchery immediately to make an effort to release the turtle alive. 

However, the hatchery employees were not convinced. The Blue Guards, the Landing Centre Facilitator, and the project team then visited the hatchery again and advocated for the turtle’s live release. They, however, again refused to accept it.

The team then enlightened the workers about the critical status of this marine megafauna (turtle, dolphin, etc.) and referred to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list. 

They also explained the law of protecting megafaunas under the ‘Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012’ schedule. But they were still not convinced to release the turtle.

Around 9:00 pm on that day, after nearly 10 hours of constant conversation and advocacy, the hatchery staff were persuaded and finally took steps to release the turtle alive in the sea. The fisherman who spotted the turtle was also present during the release of the turtle into the sea.

A joyous atmosphere was created when the turtle was transported to the water for live release. The fishermen nearby promised to release any future live encounters with turtles back into the sea.

Talking to Bangladesh Post, Nargis Sultana Liza, a wildlife inspector at the Forest Department; said that catching, selling and buying of turtles is prohibited as per the ‘Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012’. She thanked the ECOFISH II project team members for taking the initiative of releasing the giant turtle alive in the sea.  

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