Sat, Jun 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Sea turtle swims 3,572km to Philippines

QUITE A JOURNEY:Another rescued hawksbill turtle released in 2016 traveled 5,467km to waters near Indonesia’s Pulau Belitung Island, professor Cheng I-jiunn said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

A rescued sea turtle released in March has traveled 3,572km to waters near the central Philippines, the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau said yesterday.

To mark World Oceans Day, the bureau released a survey about the turtle’s journey after its rescue.

The sea turtle — a subadult hawksbill turtle — was rescued on Dec. 4 last year off Yilan County’s Nanfangao (南方澳) after National Taiwan Ocean University received a report about a turtle stranded at a port, the bureau said.

After receiving medical care at the university and National Taiwan University’s Veterinary Hospital, the turtle was released on March 29 from the county’s Waiao (外澳) beach with a satellite transmitter on its back to track its journey.

The turtle from April 10 to April 12 traveled northward to the waters near Japan’s Ishigaki Island, then turned southward and on Friday last week transmitted a signal near Samar Island in the central Philippines, it said.

Judging from its route, the turtle might be looking for areas with more food, university marine biology professor Cheng I-jiunn (程一駿) said.

Another rescued hawksbill turtle released in 2016 traveled 5,467km to waters near Indonesia’s Pulau Belitung Island, Cheng said, adding that they swim at an average speed of 2.1kph.

Compared with green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles seem to travel faster and to farther places, he said, but added that more research is needed to clarify the behaviors of the two species.

Hawksbill turtles are included on the nation’s endangered wildlife list and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ critically endangered species list, the bureau said.

The bureau has since 2014 helped rescue 664 sea turtles, 20 percent of which were stranded on beaches, it said, adding that 90 percent of rescued turtles can return to the sea after receiving treatment.

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