Categorized | Environment

Chinese police rescue Inouye the turtle

Police and medical volunteers transfer Inouye to the floating sea turtle hospital. (Photo courtesy of Sea Turtle 911)


Chinese military police have rescued an endangered sea turtle from poachers on Hainan Island.

After performing a preliminary health check, Sea Turtles 911, a Hawaiian non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue and conservation of sea turtles, admitted the 80 kg (176 lb) adult male Green sea turtle ( Chelonia mydas ) into their floating sea turtle hospital.

The turtle has multiple shell abrasions and is missing the outer half of his left fore flipper.

The turtle has been named “Inouye” in honor of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. Like Sen. Inouye, the turtle is an amputee who is a survivor of war, though battling the threat of extinction.

During the war, Sen. Inouye was also a medical volunteer, akin to the medical volunteers at Sea Turtles 911. Volunteers provide injured sea turtles with medical care to rehabilitate them back into their best health.

Inouye, the turtle, undergoes daily physical therapy to regain strength of his partially amputated flipper.

Sea Turtles 911 Founding Director Frederick Yeh said, “Despite his general good health, I am concerned. Because he is missing such a large portion of his flipper, including the claw, he may never be able to contribute to the population’s gene pool once released.”

Male sea turtles use their long front claws to clasp on to females during mating; without which, breeding may be nearly impossible.

The effectual loss of a single individual’s ability to reproduce is heartbreaking news for a species already on the brink of extinction.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Green turtle as endangered.

Despite their protected status, sea turtles are still the targets of heavy poaching in southern China. Green sea turtles are hunted for their meat and eggs in particular, while the critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricata ) shells are valued for the market in sea turtle jewelry.

Traditional Chinese Medicine implies that wearing Hawksbill shell items will increase health and vitality, though there is no scientific evidence supporting such claims. Increased human waste polluting the South China Sea has also had a dramatic negative effect on marine life.

Sea turtles, and many other species, accidentally ingest or become tangled in floating garbage, resulting in injury and even death.

The status of sea turtle populations in Chinese waters is precarious, and what lies ahead for them is still uncertain.

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Sea Turtles 911 Director Frederick Yeh assists Inouye through his sea turtle physical therapy. (Photo courtesy of Sea Turtle 911)

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