DoE officer swims captured turtle to safety

| 13/09/2011

(CNS): Two female green turtles have been rescued this month as a result of efforts by the DoE’s chief conservation officer and the police helicopter. In the two separate incidents poachers had tied up and attempted to hide the endangered green turtles, expecting to return for their illegal catch at a later date, but in both cases Mark Orr freed the female turtles and released them back into the ocean. In one case Orr actually swam out to sea with the 200lb turtle to ensure she did not get tangled up in the mangroves where she was found, which proved to be something of a battle for the officer. “It was quite a struggle convincing the 200lb turtle that I was bringing her to safety as she continually tried to bite me. Once out of the cove, I first made sure she did not have any injuries before releasing her,” Orr said.

The turtle was discovered on Wednesday, 7 September, following a joint operation by the police and the Department of Environment (DoE). Orr said the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Air Unit had raised the alarm after spotting a wave runner that had a large object tied to the front of it.

“The wave runner was later stopped by the RCIPS marine unit, but nothing was found,” Orr revealed. “We then instigated a land and sea search in the area where the RCIPS Air Unit had first seen the wave runner. The turtle was later found in the back of a cove where she was tied to a tree by her front fins. Worried that she would get entangled in the mangroves if just set free, Orr turned her on her back and swam her back out to the North Sound.

A few days earlier another poaching attempt was foiled near Sand Hole Road after people walking the beach notified DoE.

“We suspect that the one near Sand Hole Road, a 375 pound green turtle, was probably laying eggs when she was caught and tied up. Poachers then hid her in the bush, but before they could return, she was found,” Orr explained.

The senior officer pointed out that Cayman’s turtles are endangered and are all protected by law. He also encouraged the public to be the DoE’s “eyes and ears” and report any poaching or attempted poaching.

“We cannot be everywhere and thus rely heavily on information from the public. If you see something, call 911, contact the police or talk to me directly at 916-6271,” he added.

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  1. anonymous says:

    ummm "DOE officer swims captured turtle to safety"  what about using the boat.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where were the rest of the officers????? Mr Orr you seem to be the only one out there.

    There was no action taken because I hear the officers from DOE do not have the powers to do anything other than take marine life off people.

    Give the officers the powers and the tools to deal with the poachers!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mark!  You're a hero!

  4. Paradise Lost says:

    Great  job to all involved…Mr. Orr, the DOE and the RCIPS.  Keep up the good work and fight the good fight.  It is comforting to know that someone is trying to make a difference.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CNS – what happened to the people on the waverunner?  If they were released as they couldn't be charged hopefully their information was taken and they will be monitored…

  6. Anonymous says:

    CONGRATULATIONS, job well done.

    i know it is difficult and VERY FLUSTRATING,    

     keep up the good work

  7. Judge Dredd says:

    Sadly there are people who look at turtles and still think "stew".  What a disgrace!

    • my my says:


      Poachers are mostly crack-heads with no jobs and view this as easy money. They have no sense of what is moral or right – but those who buy the meat – individuals or restaurants are the ones who make it possible. They CAN be reached through media. How foolish they are to empower these low-lifes and encourage them to keep poaching for the money for drugs. They are undermining their own futures and those of their children and the economy of the island which affects everyone here. 


  8. Anonymous says:

    poachers = cayman kind

  9. believe it or not says:

    The  turtle from the turtle farm tastebetter than the wild turtle, The wild turtle smells bad and taste tough.

    • Pit Bull says:

      Everything is relative.  The rest of the world tends to think turtle meat is repulsive regardless of its source.

    • Anonymous says:

      And under what circumstances have you eaten wild turtle?

    • my my says:

      Liver Cancer? Birth defects? Kidney disease? Poisoning? Yet MORE reasons to stop eating these beautiful  animals. 

      "Research and reports such as those published by the World Health Organisation and the EcoHealth Journal have shown that the consumption of hawksbill meat can be, and has been, a fatal mistake in numerous cases.

      Hawksbill turtles all over the world feed mainly on toxic sponges. It is still a mystery to us that an animal can survive on this diet. The toxins in hawksbill turtle meat actually exceed international food safety standards and can result in neurotoxicity, kidney disease, liver cancer, developmental effects in foetuses and children, and even death.

      As such, it is considered highly dangerous, particularly for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children to eat hawksbill turtle meat.

      Poisoning by turtle meat is called chelonitoxin or turtle poisoning and has been reported from many countries in the Indian Ocean, including Seychelles. The vast majority of turtle poisoning cases have come from eating hawksbill turtle meat, BUT GREEN TURTLE MEAT CAN ALSO BE POISONOUS."

  10. David Kirkaldy says:

    All of the staff of the DoE that I know, including Mr Orr, are hard working, dedicated, and genuinely care about the conservation of our collective marine and terrestrial heritage.

    Particularly on the enforcement side of their work they face long hours, frequent and often overtly aggressive feedback in the performance of their legally mandated duties, and do so generally ill equipped to protect themselves.

    Support them by understanding the marine conservation laws and why they are in place, supporting the long overdue passage of the overarching National Conservation Law (which will not stop development in favour of an exotic species of cockroach found on your property as some insist), attend the Marine Parks meetings currently being offered in all districts ( ), and watch Guy Harvey's film, The Mystery of the Grouper Moon to understand why stronger controls are needed now more than ever.

    Much has changed in Cayman over just a few generations.  Mr Orr and the staff at the DoE are to be commended for their selfless and oft criticized dedication to see that future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy our natural resources as we do today.

    David Kirkaldy

  11. Red Flag says:

    Good on ya Mark!  Another shining example of the good work done by DOE.

  12. cow itch says:

    geeez… ooorrrrr, the turtle [in the pic] was trying to get a sun tan! 

  13. Anonymous says:

    I give the people who allerted Mark as well as Mark the thumbs up and a sincere pat on the back job well done.

    As to the poachers, these are endangered animals that are an important part of the environment, please stop this activity.

    This is why the marine environment needs to be actively protected by all of us and those who propose self regulation are living in a dream world.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great work, Mark. You are a great example of dedication and committment to these islands.

    – Fellow Member of the Class of '91

  15. Anonymous says:

    What a great uplifting end to a sad story.  Poachers should be poached!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Okay…….So was the area staked out to apprehend the poachers on return for their catch?

  17. Recently Enlightened says:

    Great job Mark!

  18. apprentice says:

    "It was quite a struggle convincing the 200lbturtle that I was bringing her to safety as she continually tried to bite me. Once out of the cove, I first made sure she did not have any injuries before releasing her"

    Well done, Orr. The turtle reminds me on how some Caymanians and Expats just don't know what is good for them. When you try hard to help them, they bite, kick, and fight back. But I have learnt, you must keep on doing good despite the odds against you. If people hate you, love them. If they try to bite you, keep on doing what is for their good, and you will be bless. Like what Jesus said about his murderers whilst dying on the cross, "Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do." That was extreme love. There is no other love story like it. The man sacrifice himself (as the story goes) for his people, and here was his own people resisting his message, yet he could have turned away from Jerusalem and profited from his miracles. But he stood his ground to achieve his goal – not just for himself, but for the whole world. He says, "take up your cross and follow me." I could think of no other lesson for this week.

    Orr, you inspired me. Thank you!  😉     

  19. Anonymous says:

    As much as i love my turtle stew, i do not agree with poaching. There are a few persons with turtling licences still and there is a lawful turtle season with rules. I would encourage all to please abide by the law and rules.


    I know people are poaching for the money, but if your customer wants turtle meat for sale or personal consumption, buy it from the Farm.


    If poaching continues, our turtle stock could take a serious drop! Poachers PLEASE find something constructive to do with your time.