Locals on Kumejima island, about 100 kilometers west of Okinawa’s main island, reported finding at least 30 green sea turtles off a beach on the remote Japanese island, with many stabbed in the neck on Thursday.
“Many of the turtles appeared dead. I have never seen anything like this before,” said one of the staff of the Sea Turtle Museum of Kumejima, who rushed to the shoaling beach where most of the turtles were lying motionless.
“It is extremely difficult to process this,” the museum staff member added.
According to local media, one fishing operator admitted wounding the green sea turtles to remove them from fishing nets.
“I disentangled some of the [turtles] and released them into the sea, but I couldn’t free [the] heavy ones, so I stabbed them to get rid of them,” an unnamed fishing operator said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Japanese Environment Ministry have designated the green and loggerhead sea turtles as endangered species.
Conservation activities have also started in Okinawa and Kagoshima, where the turtles lay eggs.
Okinawa Prefectural Police and the Kumejima Municipal Government are investigating animal cruelty claims and questioning witnesses.
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