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In safe hands, the Olive Ridley turtle at Phuket's Naiharn beach

Olive the Turtle Fights for Life on Phuket

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
AN OLIVE Ridley turtle, rarely sighted on Phuket, came ashore at the southern beach of Naiharn yesterday as night fell, with its left front flipper missing.

Italian resident Raimondo was among those who were keen to help the stricken creature, a female estimated to be about two years old.

''It is so sad,'' he said, ''to see such a beautiful creature hurt and suffering like this.''

The likelihood is that the young turtle came off second best in an encounter with a fishing net, although there are fewer trawlers at sea during the monsoon season.

Green turtles are more regular visitors, although they too are no longer sighted as frequently as they once were.

Efforts are being made to release immature turtles in the hope that they might eventually begin breeding again on the island. However, lights and noise drive them away.

Parts of Mai Khao beach on the north of the island are still thought to be secluded enough for turtles to breed. Some still return to shore a little further north, in the neighboring province of Phang Nga, to deposit eggs in the sand.

Construction workers have been spotted, though, digging them up to eat.

While mock turtles decorate the beachfront in the island's main resort town of Patong, the only turtle seen there recently was, unfortunately, dead.

The Navy oversees a protected island in the Similans where turtle numbers are said to be steadily increasing, despite reports of illegal fishing nearby.

The stricken Olive Ridley turtle was placed in the care of Dr Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, of the Marine Environment Species Unit at Phuket's Marine Biology Centre.

He said the turtle appeared to have had netting around her neck at some stage, and a damaged eye.

Seaweed growing on her carapace indicated she had been trapped in the net and unable to move for some time . . . until her efforts to break free led to the loss of her flipper.

Dr Kongkiat thinks that the turtle will be able to cope without the flipper, though, once she has a chance to recover.

Damaged limbs can be successfully reattached, but artificial flippers do not function well.

The Olive Ridley is the smallest of the species of turtles known in Phuket, and it is not sighted in other parts of Thailand.

''Even small nets are dangerous for turtles,'' Dr Kongkiat said. ''Phuket would have a much more varied and appealing marine system without them.''

Update: Turtle Lands in Patong, Then Vanishes
Photo Album Just about the whole Phuket holiday town of Patong was looking for a turtle that landed onshore near Loma Park this morning, then apparently was ''turtlenapped.''
Update: Turtle Lands in Patong, Then Vanishes

Phuket's Giant Turtle Wins His Freedom
Latest A giant turtle, treated on Phuket after suffering a wound at the hands of illegal fishermen, has recovered and been freed. A microchip will track his movements.
Phuket's Giant Turtle Wins His Freedom

Phuket Chips Track Turtles' Swim for Safety
Photo Album Phuket, once home to several varieties of turtles, may see them come ashore again once microchips tell scientists more about the creatures' experiences in the Andaman Sea.
Phuket Chips Track Turtles' Swim for Safety

Phuket's Turtles Disappearing With Development
Latest Fishing and ceaseless development are wiping out one of Phuket's most charming natural attractions, the turtles. Conservationists are losing the battle to progress and profit taking.
Phuket's Turtles Disappearing With Development

Similans Divers Regret Absence of Big Fish
Photo Album Pre-season divers to the Similans are questioning the absence of big fish and the number of fishing boats seen around the protected islands.
Similans Divers Regret Absence of Big Fish

Events: Farewell to Royal Phuket, Turtles
Earth Day this year just happens to coincide with Sea Day for one of Phuket's best-known vessels, the Royal Phuket. The Royal Navy ship is being farewelled in style, and so are 70 turtles.
Events: Farewell to Royal Phuket, Turtles

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