Turtles, dolphins continue to wash ashore

BANG TAO: A green turtle weighing about 5.7 kilograms was found at Le Phang Beach at about 9 am Tuesday.

Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, a biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC), told the Gazette that the female sea turtle, bearing a hard shell 39.5 centimeters long and 37cm wide, was suffering from exhaustion and had difficulty breathing.

The turtle was taken to the PMBC at Cape Panwa about 3 pm.

“The green turtle is two years old, very tired, but has no injuries and does not appear to be suffering from any illness. It was exhausted from swimming in strong waves over the past few days and was too weak to swim back to the sea,” K. Kongkiat said.

The recovery of the Le Phang turtle follows two hawksbill sea turtles found stranded ashore, one at Surin Beach on Monday and another at Mai Khao on Friday.

PMBC biologist Karnjana Adulyanukosol, told the Gazette that both turtles – each about 30-centimeters long and about two years old – were snared in fishing nets.

The turtle found at Mai Khao died from its injuries, but the other turtle is being treated at the PMBC.

“The turtle we found at Surin Beach was wounded on one of its front flippers, but fortunately the muscle was not destroyed,” K. Karnjana said.

“The turtle was also very tired from being trapped in the net and a lack of food. We are giving it antibiotics and we will try to feed it some liquid food as well,” she added.

Two species of sea turtles commonly associated with Phuket, the Olive Ridley and the Leatherback,

both face increasing difficulty finding nesting sites on the island and have as a result been laying fewer eggs. Both species are at risk of completely disappearing from local waters, K. Kongkiat said.

However, turtles are not the only species washing ashore. K. Kongkiat said that a mature-aged, spotted male dolphin, 2.2 meters long, was found dead at Karon Beach yesterday morning.

“Although we found that the dolphin’s lungs were not greatly inflamed, it had no food in its stomach, which means that it was probably sick and had not fed for a long time. If so, this dolphin would have been left behind by the school it was with, as this is what dolphins instinctively do to survive,” K. Kongkiat explained.

“The PMBC is worried about the variety of different dolphin species that are being washed ashore. When dolphins wash ashore or beach themselves they are usually of the same species, but in the past two weeks alone we have had specimens of four different species wash ashore,” he said.

A dead dolphin washed ashore at Kamala last Thursday and two dolphins were beached a week earlier: one at Karon Beach on July 1 and another Tai Muang in Phang Nga on July 2.

Both dolphins were suffering from respiratory illness. The dolphin found at Tai Muang died the following day.

K. Karnjana said that the dolphin found on Karon Beach is slowly recovering at the PMBC’s Marine Endangered Species Unit, and staff have even named it “Nong Red”.

“Nong Red is beginning to eat on her own and we’re hoping for a full recovery,” K. Karnjana said.

Phuket News

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