The Penghu County government and conservation groups reintroduced another 18 turtles to the sea on Wednesday afternoon. The conservation initiative to introduce more turtles to their natural habitat is spearheaded by the Penghu Marine Biology Research Center.
The Penghu Marine Biology Research Center said that half of the turtles released today were born on the beaches in Wang’an Township between July and September 2017. Those turtles have grown from between 20 and 82 grams to 3 and 4.7 kg. The others were rescued from other areas and cared for in Penghu before their release, UDN reported.
The reception for the release of the turtles into the wild included guests from government agencies, including Penghu County Magistrate Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復). About 600 locals and tourists were also in attendance, along with elementary school children, to take part in the conservation effort.
The region has stepped up efforts to support the local turtle population. On May 14, the Penghu County government released 15 green turtles and hawksbill turtles into the wild.
Taiwan is home to five indigenous turtle species, including the Chinese stripe-necked, Chinese three-keeled pond and Chinese softshell turtles. The yellow-margined box and Asian yellow pond turtles are considered endangered species.
The Penghu Marine Biology Research Center was established in 1997 and has rescued and cared for 418 turtles so far, though not all have survived. It has now released 248 turtles into the sea.
It wasn’t until 1989 that the Taiwanese government banned the killing of green sea turtles to prevent the destruction of the endangered species. In 1995, Penghu established protected nesting grounds for the turtles to help grow their numbers. Despite conservation efforts, sea turtles are still consumed for their supposed health benefits. A man in Taichung, hoping to reap the health benefits almost died from drinking a mix of raw deer and turtle blood last week.
Sea turtle nesting grounds in Taiwan are now only found in Penghu, Lanyu and the Taitung coastline. Visitors to Penghu can learn more about sea turtles and conservation efforts at the Green Turtle Tourism Conservation Center (望安綠蠵龜觀光保育中心) in Wang’an.