Indonesia releases 33 sea turtles rescued from poachers

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Authorities on the tropical Indonesian island of Bali on Saturday released 33 endangered green turtles into the ocean in an attempt to boost a population threatened by poachers and illegal traders.

The turtles, of the species Chelonia mydas protected in Indonesia, were released on Kuta beach after being rescued during a Navy operation against poachers in December. Tourists gathered to watch and film the release on their cellphones, cheering on the turtles as they trudged along the beach.

“It’s a great idea for the conservation effort,” Australian tourist Briant Firth said. “They were catching some of the poachers and they were saving the turtles.” Indonesia has emerged as a hub for international sea turtle trafficking, fueling demand from countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and China. Anyone found guilty of involvement in trade can be jailed for up to five years under Indonesian law.

The turtles were being rehabilitated at the Bali Natural Resources and Conservation Agency, authorities said. “This is evidence in a naval operation (…) we release them because we cannot keep these wild animals as evidence for long,” Deputy Naval Chief of Staff Ahmadi told reporters. Heri Purwono.

“With the release, I hope they will continue and reproduce,” he said, adding that it could help improve the marine ecosystem around the island of Bali. The population of green turtles, one of the largest sea turtles, has experienced a significant decline in recent years due to hunting, loss of nesting sites on beaches and being caught in fishing gear.

They are also victims of the growing global ocean plastics crisis. The creatures are known to eat plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which said many turtles have plastic in their stomachs.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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