A diver on Saturday tried in vain to save a critically endangered sea turtle that became entangled in a fishing net off the southern coast — the 49th such case this year.
“I am really heartbroken,” the diving instructor, surnamed Tseng (曾), said yesterday of losing the hawksbill sea turtle, despite administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Tseng was with a trainee at a diving spot off Shanhai Fishing Harbor (山海漁港) in Pingtung County’s Hengchun Township (恆春) when they discovered a discarded 2m-by-40m gillnet.
Photo courtesy of a diving coach surnamed Tseng
Caught in the net was a hawksbill sea turtle on the verge of death, he said.
Tseng said that he cut the turtle out of the net and brought it to the surface to perform CPR, but he could not save it.
Lee Tsung-hsien (李宗賢), a sea turtle expert at the National Museum of Marine Biology, said that he could understand the diver’s intentions when he administered CPR, but would advise against it.
Aside from the risk of infection, if the turtle’s esophagus had been blocked, the breath might not have even reached its lungs, Lee said.
In most cases, Lee suggested bringing the turtle to shore and calling for help.
The Coast Patrol Corps 6 said that apart from the hawksbill, it also retrieved a dead green sea turtle from Checheng Township (車城) on Saturday.
Both turtles have been sent to the museum to determine the cause of death, it said.
Kenting National Park Administration Deputy Director Hsu Shu-kuo (許書國) said that people caught placing gillnets on park grounds could be fined NT$3,000 (US$105.49) under the National Park Act (國家公園法).
If it results in the injury or death of a wild animal, the incident would become a contravention of the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法), which stipulates a jail sentence of six months to five years, in addition or commutable to a NT$600,000 to NT$1 million fine, Hsu said.
The museum this year has received reports of 49 injured or deceased sea turtles, a jump from the 38 it received last year, Lee said.
Sea turtles can easily become entangled in fishing nets, leading to injury or death, he said.
Plastics from bags and other products accumulate in seaweed, posing a danger as they could be mistakenly ingested, Lee added.
The Ocean Conservation Administration called on anyone who discovers an imperiled sea turtle to call the coast guard emergency hotline at 118 or the local marine conservation authority.
Additional reporting by Hung Chen-hung
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