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Scientists Demand Closure of Caribbean Turtle Farm

Jan 22, 2013 08:12 AM EST
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle

(Photo : NOAA)

A team of researchers is demanding a turtle farm in the Caribbean to be closed down, following animal welfare issues.

Researcher Phillip Arena from the Murdoch University and scientists at the Emergent Disease Foundation in the U.K. carried out a probe into the Cayman Turtle Farm in the Cayman Islands. They demanded that the farm be shut down as it is posing a major threat to wild turtle conservation efforts in the region.

Video footage and other samples provided by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) showed evidence of captivity stress, poor diet, poor water quality, birth defects and diseases in turtles.

"One of the turtles I assessed, a Kemps Ridley sea turtle which is the rarest species of turtle in the world, was kept in such poor conditions that it was clearly dying a slow death," Arena said in a statement. "I found evidence of limb trauma, vitamin deficiency and disease, the tank water was turbid and the turtle's shell was blanketed in an unnaturally thick layer of algae."

Arena and other scientists demanded the closure of the turtle farm and also insisted that none of the turtles should be released back into the wild, for fear of infecting wild populations.

The farm was first established in 1968 to produce green turtles for human consumption. In the recent years, the farm, which houses 7,000 sea turtles, has become more of a tourist spot, attracting about 500,000 visitors a day.

Scientists and WSPA are encouraging the farm to be converted into a research facility and focus on conserving the turtle species.

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