Turtles born in Nagoya aquarium released into Kuroshima sea

Turtles born in Nagoya aquarium released into Kuroshima sea

On April 25, at the Kuroshima Institute of Taketomi, Motoki Wakatsuki moved a sea turtle received from the Nagoya Public Aquarium into a tank.

May 4, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

For two years, the Nagoya Public Aquarium and the Kuroshima Research Station have been carrying out a project for reintroducing hawksbill turtles into the wild. This is a project that involves breeding this variety of turtles, an endangered species, in the aquarium and then returning them to the wild. This year they have released turtles tagged with radio transmitters to track their movements.

Kuroshima has promoted the event in which tourists enjoy releasing the turtles during Golden Week.

A total of 30 turtles will be released, all of which have been raised from the eggs in the aquarium so they do not know the realities of the ocean. On April 25, the aquarium has brought 40 turtles, including ten 3-year-old animals and 20 babies under the age of one, from Nagoya to Kuroshima by airplane.

Okinawa is the northern limit of their breeding range and this species of turtle has been confirmed as currently breeding on Kuroshima. The aquarium has chosen Kuroshima for where they will release the turtles because the island is surrounded by coral reefs and is the natural habitat for the turtles. They plan to ascertain the migration path of the turtles by tracking the animals using a transmitter connected to the turtles. They released the turtles with transmitters on them two years ago, but so far have failed to collect any data. Hitoshi Okamoto, of the Nagoya Public Aquarium, said, “We have improved the method to attach the transmitter to the turtles. We carried out joint research with the United States last year, but now we must move forward under our own steam. I’m looking forward to gaining some good results.”

Motoki Wakatsuki, a staff member of the Kuroshima Institute explained, “The Institute can provide enough information as to why the turtles lay their eggs in this location because we have stored the data for many years.”

The event for releasing the turtles was held from April 27 to May 6. Tourists and locals enjoyed the contact with the animals including actually measuring the hawksbill turtles. Kazunori Nakata, a member of the Kuroshima Tourism Association, said, “I look forward to attracting tourists through an event involving the sea turtles.”

For further information, please contact to Ishigaki Dream Tourism, Phone: 0980 84 3178.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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