Leatherback sea turtle death sparks concern among Thai wildlife officials

Photo courtesy of Khao Lampi Hat Thai Mueang National Park

The untimely demise of a leatherback sea turtle on a beach in Phang Nga this week triggered a wave of concern among wildlife officials and conservationists. The cause of death was an unfortunate entanglement in a fishing net, which was discovered when the turtle’s carcass washed ashore.

Athapol Charoenshunsa, stationed at the helm of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, received the news from the principal of Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park. The turtle, a female, was found in a state of decay near the national park protection unit in the Thai Muang district. Its flippers and neck were snared in a fishing net, leading officials to conclude this as the cause of death. The turtle measured a striking 1.8 metres in length, reported Bangkok Post.

The park, in collaboration with the Sireetarn Marine Endangered Animals Rescue Centre, is currently performing an autopsy to establish a comprehensive understanding of the incident.

The tragic event has prompted Deputy Prime Minister Police General Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, who doubles as the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, to direct the Department of National Parks and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. His instructions were clear: regulate the use of fishing equipment among local fishermen to prevent such instances.

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In a bid to identify the turtle, a DNA test will be conducted. This information was shared by Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, an expert from the Marine and Coastal Resources Research & Development Institute, via a Facebook post. He added that three turtles had been seen laying eggs in the vicinity of the national park this year. Two of these were known as Mae Thai Mueang and Mae Lampee.

The death of the turtle is significant, given that leatherback turtles are classified as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In Thailand, these turtles, often spotted laying eggs on the western beaches of Phang Nga and Phuket, receive protection under the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 2019. Thus, the loss of one is a blow to the preservation efforts of this species.

In related news, Jinyang Holiday Group faced backlash for tourists harming marine life in Thailand. An apology was issued after tourists damaged coral reefs, sparking calls for decisive action and stricter guidelines.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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