Rescued turtles make debut at S.E.A. Aquarium

Green sea turtle being transferred back to the Shipwreck Habitat after being weighed.ST VIDEO: ABIGAIL NG
Hawke, a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, was one of two rescued turtles that debuted at the S.E.A. Aquarium's Shipwreck Habitat yesterday on World Turtle Day. The other was a green sea turtle named Louie.
Hawke, a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, was one of two rescued turtles that debuted at the S.E.A. Aquarium's Shipwreck Habitat yesterday on World Turtle Day. The other was a green sea turtle named Louie.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

When Louie, an endangered green sea turtle, arrived at Resorts World Singapore's S.E.A. Aquarium in September 2015, it measured no more than 5cm and weighed 20g.

More than a year on, it weighs at least 10kg, and yesterday was one of two sea turtles that debuted at the aquarium's Shipwreck Habitat in celebration of World Turtle Day.

Louie was found by a member of the public in a drain, while the other, a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, was found in the sea in poor condition. Named Hawke, it had developed an irreversible shell deformity due to poor nutrition and care.

S.E.A. Aquarium took in both turtles with the permission of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). In response to queries, AVA said rescued or confiscated animals are sent to Wildlife Reserves Singapore or Resorts World Sentosa while investigations are ongoing. It added that the animals may be absorbed into zoological collections.

But Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said turtles with no incapacitating injuries or deformities should be released into the wild. Once hatched, sea turtles are independent, she said.

Ms Ria Tan, who runs the wildsingapore.com nature website, noted that wild turtles are commonly found in Singapore waters.

Aquarium curator Akira Yeo said the turtles are presently not suitable for release. "They are still in their juvenile stage, so we will continue to provide care. If a suitable release programme is found, we are happy to work with them."

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Green sea turtle moved back into habitat. str.sg/4uQS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'Rescued turtles make debut at S.E.A. Aquarium'. Print Edition | Subscribe