Fiji Times Logo

Fiji Time: 9:28 AM on Thursday 24 April

/ Front page / News

Uni releases turtles into sea

Torika Tokalau
Sunday, December 08, 2013

FIVE sea turtles were released into the sea yesterday at USP's Marine Campus.

The event was to mark the end of the week-long 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Conservation and Protected Areas which ended on Friday.

Fisheries Department principle research officer Aisake Batibasaga said the event was also a tribute to Lui Bell, a marine species officer who had spearheaded sea turtle conservation and satellite tagging in the region.

"Two adult green turtles were tagged with satellite transmitters so we are able to know exactly where they are for the next 12-18 months," Mr Batibasaga said.

"Every 15 minutes when they surface for air, the satellite transmitters will send signals to the Argo satellite and we are able to know their location."

Three more sea turtles were tagged with conventional flipper tags before they were released. The turtles were caught on Friday by the Fisheries Department and the community of Yanuca.

Mr Batibasaga advised villagers in isolated islands to keep a watch out for sea turtles as this was their nesting period.

"From September to end of April they are normally seen coming ashore and laying their eggs on beaches. They are fully protected legally so they cannot be interfered with or harvested."

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) director general David Shepard said the Pacific holds the largest population of Hawksbill and Green turtles.

"We recognise the use of turtle meat is traditional practice in some places but we are also trying to encourage other economic uses of turtles where they can be conserved. They can be used as a basis for eco-tourism, in a sustainable and viable alternative instead of over consumption."