The discovery of four large live turtles in a stranded boat early yesterday morning has shocked Trinity Beach residents, Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is investigating whether the indigenous hunters who caught them were exercising their customary rights.
The adult green sea turtles were released back into the wild after they were found in a half-cabin boat at the northern end of Trinity Beach.
Jennie Gilbert, of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, was called out to care for the creatures.
“A lot of the community was down there pouring water on these turtles,’’ she said.
“They were fairly stressed when I got there and I think that was from being in an enclosed space.
“They were beautiful big adult females.”
The turtles were carried to the water’s edge and set free.
“They were released and as soon as they hit the beach, believe me, they took off,” Ms Gilbert said.
Ms Gilbert said the boat had run out of fuel several hours earlier and the four indigenous hunters aboard had set off to get petrol.
She said they returned about 9am and were apologetic for upsetting residents.
“The fact that the community saw them (the turtles) in the boat was the problem and the fact that they were quite stressed,” Ms Gilbert said.
“They’re allowed to hunt.
“A lot of people do think it’s illegal but it’s not.”
A GBRMPA spokeswoman said officers were speaking to the hunters about the incident.
The RSPCA said it would investigate but was awaiting a report.
The green sea turtle, which is hunted and eaten for its meat, is listed as a “vulnerable” species.
Source: The Cairns Post
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