Enormous sea turtle stranded rescued by 20 people, including locals, the Turtle Hermit,  police, and aquarium employees

Enormous sea turtle stranded rescued by 20 people, including locals, the Turtle Hermit,  police, and aquarium employees

A loggerhead sea turtle got stuck on the rocks on her way back to sea. (May 5, the shore in Kyan, Itoman. Photograph provided by Koki Tokumura)

May 6, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


On May 5, a loggerhead sea turtle was discovered on the shore in Kyan in Itoman. The turtle was found stuck on the rocks after laying her eggs. Approximately 20 people, including locals, the Turtle Hermit, who loves turtles, police, and aquarium employees, rushed to the spot and began efforts to rescue the turtle.

“A sea turtle laid her eggs, but hasn’t returned to the sea.” Koki Tokumura (Kyan, Itoman) received word from an acquaintance who came to his home at around 9 a.m. Tokumura is known as a turtle-lover, and does a radio show in Okinawa under the radio name Turtle Hermit (Kame Sennin). For the past 9 years, he has conducted independent patrols while out walking, in order to protect sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach near Kyan Fishing Port.

After his acquaintance told him the news, Tokumura went directly to the spot: a beach approximately 500 meters south of Kyan Fishing Port. The turtle had finished laying her eggs and was on her way back to the sea when the tide had gone out, leaving the lone turtle stuck on the rocks, about 15 meters from the water.

Seeing the turtle, Tokumura decided that he needed help and called 110. Two officers rushed to the spot from the Kohagura and the Komesu Substations of the Itoman Police Department. Locals who had heard about the turtle also turned up. The locals covered the turtle with a vinyl sheet to keep her warm, and expressed hopes for her safety. In the afternoon, two employees who care for sea turtles at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, including Ken Maeda, arrived. They had received a call from the police. The aquarium employees skillfully wrapped the turtle in a net and placed her in a plastic basket. Then, with help from Tokumura, the police, and around 8 local adults, they carried the turtle to their truck, rescuing her.

Movie and Photos = http://ryukyushimpo.jp/photo/entry-1316664.html

According to Maeda, the sea turtle is somewhere between 20 and 30 years old, about 1 meter long, and weighs around 100 kilograms. “Her injuries were very minor, and she is healthy.” Sea turtles lay their eggs between May and September. Maeda offered a possible explanation for why the turtle was unable to return to sea: “I’d guess that there were people having beach parties during Golden Week. Sea turtles hate artificial light and signs of people, so it is possible that she laid her eggs in a different spot than usual, or tried to return to sea along a different route.” The rescued turtle will be cared for at Churaumi Aquarium as they keep an eye on her injuries, and then she will be returned to sea.


Tokumura, the Turtle Hermit, lifts his signature glasses, narrows his eyes, and says “I’m glad her injuries were minor. I’m going to continue the patrols until I die.”

“I’m glad her injuries were minor.” Koki Tokumura, the Turtle Hermit, celebrates the turtle’s rescue. (May 5, the shore in Kyan, Itoman)

(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)

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