30 green sea turtles found grievously injured or dead in remote Japanese island, with many stabbed in the neck

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Representative image: A sea turtle finds its way into the Mediterranean (AFP via Getty)
Representative image: A sea turtle finds its way into the Mediterranean (AFP via Getty)

More than 30 sea turtles have been found grievously injured with stab wounds around their neck on a remote island in Japan.

Locals discovered the reptiles last Thursday after a low tide on Kumejima island beach, about 100km to the west of Okinawa’s main island.

Considered endangered and named under the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), some of the sea turtles were barely able to move and were bleeding, while others had died. They appeared to have stab wounds on their neck from the blade, reported Japan’s national daily The Mainichi.

The police have initiated a case of animal cruelty.

A fishing operator in Okinawa Prefecture admitted to stabbing sea turtles to remove them from fishing nets, the outlet reported, citing sources.

“A lot of them were tangled up in fishing nets. I disentangled some of them and released them into the sea, but I couldn’t free heavy ones, so I stabbed them to get rid of them,” the fishery operator reportedly said.

The staff of the Sea Turtle Museum of Kumejima reached the beach, renowned for its sea turtles. Covered with seagrass, it is the natural habitat of sea turtles, Yoshi Tsukakoshi, a spokesperson at Kumejima sea turtle museum told CNN.

He told the outlet that the nets were laid by fishermen to catch fish but some of them think that “turtles eat all the seagrass before it grows and that prevents the fish from spawning in the area”.

“As a sea turtle community which has been transmitting the conservation of the marine environment and the importance of living creatures through sea turtle conservation activities since day-to-day, this time’s situation is extremely painful and disappointing,” said Kumejima sea turtle museum on its Facebook page.  “We are so sorry for causing you all the trouble”.

“Many of the turtles appeared dead. I have never seen anything like this before,” one of the museum employees was quoted as saying by the Asahi Shimbun. “It is extremely difficult to process this.”

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