When you’re off to the market or grocery, what food and items do you put in your cart? The last thing someone would put in their list is sea turtles. But for Arron Culling and his co-worker Mark, they just had to put the reptile at top priority when they were at a local market in Papua New Guinea. Hold your horses.
They’re not planning to cook a sea turtle stew. The two stepped up to rescue to poor reptiles from any locals with an acquired taste for their meat.
Through the years, marine biologists have seen a drastic decline in the sea turtle population in Papua New Guinea. Until today, the sea turtles are under threat from locals who eat their eggs and meat. Ocean pollution also plays a huge factor in the survival rate, not just of the turtles but also other marine creatures, especially those indigenous to the country.
Some hard-shelled turtles such as Greens and Hawksbills are satellite tagged. In the face of climate change and human intervention, scientists were able to see and understand how these two factors affect the numbers of endangered turtles. Despite the turtles’ status, turtling is still legal in some countries such as Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Australia, and some regions in the Caribbean.
When Culling and his colleague realized the fate of the two turtles in the food market, they did not hesitate and bought the sea turtles for $50. They also did not waste another second and drove for more than 3 miles and released the turtles free into the ocean.
On average, sea turtles lay 110 eggs in a nest ranging from two to eight nests per season. Hawksbills, on the other hand, can lay over 200 eggs. But the saddest thing about sea turtles is that only one out of 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
Sea turtles’ common predators include carnivorous fishes, birds, wild pigs, and dolphins, not to mention hunters looking to sell their shells, meat, and eggs in the food market.
The most amazing thing about this story is it wasn’t Culling’s first time to be a hero for the turtles. He and his team have done this several times. They were able to rescue ten turtles from the food market so far, giving them another chance for life.
Culling did the right thing in rescuing the two sea turtles from the food market. Imagine how may offspring those two would have, now that they’re back at home.