Turtles can’t be released

| 05/11/2013

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Turtle Farm has admitted that it should not be releasing its farmed turtles into the wild without putting the animals through a more vigorous quarantine and health screening process. As a result, despite having more than 8,000 turtles at the facility, the annual release, which the Farm highlights as part of its conservation credentials, will not go ahead this year during the Pirates Week festival. Following the independent inspection of the farm last December after an animal rights charity exposed serious shortcomings at the facility, the management had committed to developing a more rigorous quarantine and health check procedure prior to releasing turtles into the wild.

"The farm has upgraded quarantine facilities and enhanced the procedure under the direction of Cayman Turtle Farm’s Chief Research Officer, Dr Walter Mustin, and in-house veterinarian, Dr Martha Keller," the CTF said in a press statement Tuesday explaining why the turtle release would not happen.  "These enhancements have highlighted a need for some additional health screening tests to be run on the turtles prior to release. Unfortunately, those desired tests are not presently available."
As had been highlighted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals in their report about the conditions at the farm, including disease, skin problems, birth defects and many other issues with the farmed turtle populations, releasing the farmed turtles into the ocean may have repercussions on the wild population.
Things are also going to get more complicated for the farm because it is now reaching out to universities and research centres overseas to develop and implement the appropriate tests, it said, but it will also need to get special CITES permits for all biological samples from sea turtles sent off-island because the trade in endangered species is illegal and the turtles which are farmed for meat at the facility are all endangered species.
Despite this significant setback, the farm continued to justify its conservation work, stating that research at the facility "helps biologists and conservationists worldwide better understand and conserve green sea turtles”.
CTF Chief Researcher Dr Walter Mustin said, “It is the only place in the world where scientists have repeated access to known populations of green sea turtles ranging in size from 20 gm hatchlings to 250 kg breeders. This has made possible controlled studies in the nutrition, health, and general biology of sea turtles.” 
The farm once again claimed that over 150 scientific papers havebeen produced as a result of the  research, which have provided "invaluable information to scientists and researchers" that are involved with engaged wild sea turtle populations.
Tim Adam, the managing director of the farm, said, “We realise that many people look forward to our turtle release event and will be disappointed that it’s not going to happen during this year’s Pirate’s Week, but we are determined to ensure our health screening protocols are updated and implemented.”
Aside from being billed as part of its conservation programme and a justification for continuing with  the farming of the endangered marine creatures for meat, the annual release also offered the farm a chance to raise much needed cash for the facility. The farm sucks in an annual government subsidy of around $10 million from the public purse. 
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Turtle.  A subsistence food at best from days before refrigeration.  If eating turtle is cultural expression, you ain't got any culture.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ironically, your post suggests that you are uncultured and don't understand what the word means. 

  2. Anonymous says:


    Use the 10 million invested over the next two years to turn the turtle farm into the best marine research facility in the region. Convert the boatswains bay to facilities to support those efforts. Build relationships with universities and their graduate programs world wide. Commit to meeting university and other conservation grants dollar for dollar (up to a total of 5 million per year) we have now turned something that is a controversial money pit that potentially harms endangered species into an asset that both demonstrates some of the true Cayman culture and is a far more valuable tourist attraction. How, people will still be interested in seeing it, and the parade of graduate students through the scientific facilities increases our tourism numbers. At the same time slowly increase the licenses for the number of Turtles that can be taken from the wild. Yes, you won't be eating turtle stew every day any more,, it will be a treat, like Christmas beef, but at least your children and grand kids will be able to have it as well.

    minimizes job loss, makes the most of the facility, improves the chances we will have turtles in the ocean, improves Caymans international reputation, diminishes annual cost of the facility, improves the return on that investment, and increases tourism.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good idea. Except, the wild turtles can't support any more being taken. There's only something like 30 greens nesting each year. (Greens are what the Farm produces and most people like to eat.) And its taken 30 years to get that many (most aren't from farmed turtles either aparently). So we'll need to keep some farming going.

      But turning the Farm in to a research-tourism product is super. There's just no problem with farming turtles for local consumption though. Thats not what's costing the money. You can keep the 'farm' in the background – remember a legal supply of turtle meat reduces the acceptability of poaching among the turtle eating populus –  concentrate the toursits as you suggest, and it will work beautifully. Once the loans for the 'moeny pit' are paid off. Great idea; the more I think about it the more I think you're on to something.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What ever happened to that old turtle they released last year (or was it two years ago??). It was the oldest turtle at the farm and they put a tracker on it and the last I heard it went home to Honduras. Is it still living?!?! 


    • Anonymous says:

      They said the tracker was probably rubbed off on the reef down there.

  4. UHUHUH says:

    It really bothers me to hear those misinformed people who have no idea of the historical importance of turtles to the Cayman Islands! First of all I believe that most of these negative comments re the turtles are from foreign nationals who have absolutely no idea of why the turtle farm was started nor who started it.

    The farm was started in 1968 by two Americans, Irvin Naylor of Baltimore ,Maryland and Richard Smith of New York. While visiting the florida keys in the early sixties they became acquainted with  Chelonia Mydas or as most of us know these delicate and extremely delicious creatures, The Green Sea Turtle. After hearing about the cayman islands and seeing the abundance of live turtle that were being imported from there they decided to investigate and the rest is history. These animals were not only providing a livelihood for most Caymanian people, but thru the sales of these animals to the United States where they were slaughtered for their meat, which was known as the healthiest  of all meats. It was later discovered  that the meat made a most delicious soup that was being   shipped all over the world!

    This soup and many other products from the turtle were  produced right here in our Island! in fact, none other than the great Sir Winston Churchill, was one of its biggest fans. Even the British Royalty dined on this soup. As I said earlier the commercialization of the Green Sea Turtle was not just a Cayman thing, but others also made money from the sales of bye products such as the oil from it's fat was used for cosmetics and jewelry was made from its shell. And as for the meat, never in the hundreds of years that WE have been consuming the meat and eggs,  has there been any known serious illness or disease contracted by humans from the normal consumption thereof. In fact if you compared the meat of the turtle to that of the antibiotic, hormone infested beef which we import from overseas, and is causing a huge problem on island, withobesity  and heart disease, I say let me have my turtle! 

    Now I'm sure most of  all those who knock tuttle meat have never tried it. But just so you will know, turtle meat is loaded with! Are you ready? ALL of the healthy Omega Fatty Acids. Think about it! 

    So a little advice to all those who are suffering from the ill effects of antibiotic and hormone infested beef and chicken.  I say!

    TRY TURTLE, you might like it.  

    • Hoping for better days says:

      Thanks for the post because most people look at us Caymanians as primal because we still eat turtle. Yet many countries around the world have rare dishes like HORSE, SNAILS, KANGAROO….etc.

      It's good to keep things in perspective.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes the historical importance, much like Mauritus and the Dodo – we all know how that ends right?

  5. West Baya says:

    Yack, nasty ole turtle meat!

    We should have closed that farm down from the time Ivan tried to.  Spend that 10 million on education so we can stop producing criminals….. Shut down that airline symbolizing a turtle as well, another 20 plus million…… Spend that on education as too. 

    • J Salasi I. -111? says:

      Don't turn up ya nose to the turtle , you just never know you might have to eat it one day. Yes theFarm needs to be sold, but don't ya mess with our Turtles scene. Jah.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don't sound much like a West Baya. I suspect you are a troll.

  6. Knot S Smart says:

    The fin of the turtle in this photo dont look so good – so can I have the other 3 fins instead?

  7. Anonymous says:

    just another day in wonderland…….

  8. Anonymous says:

    boycott the turtle farm!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Turtle Farm is sucking almost $1 million per month out of government. I am as Caymanian as anyone else and I understand that turtling is part of our history just like slavery is part of our history. There is no more justification for a turtle farm than there is for a slave farm.

    The men and women who went turtling in years gone by were frugal people. They would be rolling in their graves if they knew what foolishness goes on now. On a per head basis we spend far more on each of the turtles than we spend on our students or our elderly seamen. It has to stop.

    Release the turtles, close the farm, sell the land and put the money saved into better conservation of the wild turtle population, better education, better health care and reducing the mountain of debt that our country is struggling under.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Friends don't let friends eat turtle.

    • Anonymous says:

      …because they want it all for themselves!

    • Anonymous says:

      So you close down the turtle farm.

      I can understand it from a financial point of view.

      Cayman is losing 10 mil a year to keep it running.

      From the conservation point of view its a load of crap.

      I  do understand  you point out that the turtle farm kills some of the turtles but a lot are let go into the wild. moreover the turtle farm have bred a lot of turtles. And you want to shut it down in the best interest of the turtles.

      Shutting down the farm is not the issue. The farm needs to go back to the days when it was a research  facility  operated by private funding. if you set it up that way then the turtle farm does not need to kill any turtles to provide funds to help run it. And the locals can find other means to get turtle meat.

    • Anonymous says:

      Friends respect other people's culture.

      • Anonymous says:

        do you respect the culture of racism, bigotry of some countries?

        • Anonymous says:

          We don't have a choice here, it is part of everyday living for expats.

          • Anonymous says:

            To:Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/11/2013 – 08:56.                                I hope at least some of you will make an effort to to better.

          • Anonymous says:

            I am glad you acknowledge that. The bigoted expat posts on here outnumber the sensible ones.

        • Anonymous says:

          anon 2236  I would love for you to explain that one

      • Anonymous says:

        An argument in favor of genital mutilation, forced marriages and bull fighting.

  11. anonymous says:

    The biggest waste of money on Cayman.  And now the turtles are too sick and diseased to release into the wild for fear of contamination. Massive fail.

    • Anonymous says:

      Say wha? So when Immigration says people coming here to work have to have certain medical screening tests, that automatically means they are "too sick and diseased" to be released into our population?  smh

  12. Anonymous says:

    Makes sense. Wouldn't want to be responsible for wiping out a species. 

    • Anonymous says:

      To be honest, at the rate turtles, along with other species, are being destroyed as bycatch in trawler nets the future does not look good. The fact is, a lot of those turtles that are released never make it too far into adulthood, just like in the wild. Many become food for other marine animals. BUT never the less, releasing turtles does have a positive impact on the overall population (baring the trawler nets). Once the testing is to a standard that ensure the health of the released turtles, I am for the continuation of the release program. What the environmental groups/watch dofs have to focus on is cause for the massive destruction that is occuring by these huge Japanese trawlers that snatch everything up and kill all. Just like how they are using the excuse for "science research" to slaughter whales. Stop that and we will not see the turtle fade into memory.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don't forget the mass wipeout of animals, habitat etc do too Darts gift to mankind: the bypass. 

    • Anonymous says:

      PETA taking applications buddy.

      Just hope you eat, wash, dress, travel, medicate, farm, etc….in animal friendly ways. Now that you realise you are no better.

      The turtling tradition came about from hardworking caymanains who used turtle meat as trade currency. Turtle meat became almost like gold as it created income and through it , an oppurtunity for people and society to grow. As you might imagine, turtle meat became something of a symbol of hope. This couldnt be more obvious as we consider that Columbus called these islands las tortugas.

      Turtle meat, turtling and Caymanians have been one with each for sometime. Along this time,we have seen success and failures-fair to say im sure you might agree.


      • Anonymous says:

        what are you talking about?…caymanian greed and ignorance has helped bring turtles to the point of extinction….

        some fine tradition and culture that is……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        • Anonymous says:
      • Anonymous says:

        1. I'm probably not your buddy. 

        2. That's a nice story, but I didn't say anything about anyone ( from cris Columbus to you ) eating turtle meat for hope or wtf ever.

        3.  Eat away, just report high fever or incontenence to your doctor ASAP. Wouldn't want to lose a potential buddy. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Not to worry buddy, I I exercise every day, detox 4 times a year and have recently given up the demon rum. Little plate of turtle meat wont kill me. Cant break sugar yet though-did you know that sugar kills more each year than cigarettes. I know right, blows your mind. So listen……………

          Rather than you beat your chest as you save the world from a fever, i invite you to take your energy down to one of the supermarkets and start a protest against box juice being sold to our society namely our youth as nurishment. That right there might be a real cause to get behind, dont you think!?

          "Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never lead to hate and almost always leads to love.”
          John Steinbeck

          Peace my friend

          • Anonymous says:

            Okay, we can be buddies. I totally agree with your take on the mega food/ sugar industry. I also am glad another person quit the rum (26 years here) 

            if you read my original post you'll see I wasn't attacking eating or anything about the turtles. Only  think it's a good idea not to unleash some man made Eco disaster on the wild population. 

            Lets get together and have a coconut water sometime. : )

      • Anonymous says:

        So was slavery. Shall we restore it?

      • Anonymous says:

        and the name of the Islands was changed to Cayman, for the Caimans that lived here and were hunted and eaten as part of Cayman heritage, where are the wild caimans in Cayman today.

        Oh yes that sub-species is now extinct, congratulations on your traditions

        • Anonymous says:

          To:Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/11/2013 – 14:35.                                You say " the Caimans that lived here and were hunted and eaten as part of Cayman heritage,".Please do not attempt to rewrite history.The crocodile was never a staple of the Caymanian diet. 

          • Anonymous says:

            It is amazing how people can be so ignorant of their own culture and past

            Know your own history, read

            "The maritime heritage of the Cayman Islands"

            The 1523 "Turin map" of the islands was the first to refer to them as Los Lagartos, meaning alligators or large lizards, By 1530 they were known as the Caymanes after the Carib word caimán for the marine crocodile, either the American or the Cuban crocodile, which also lived there. Recent sub-fossil findings suggest that C. rhombifer, a freshwater species, were prevalent until the 20th century.

            The first recorded English visitor was Sir Francis Drake in 1586, who reported that the caymanas were edible, but it was the turtles which attracted ships.

            from the DOE webiste:

            The Cayman Islands take their name from their once-common crocodile populations.  Numerous in the fossil record, it appears likely that the early settlers (who named the islands after the crocodiles) were also responsible for their extinction.

        • Anonymous says:

          That's right – just make it up as you go along.

  13. Anonymous says:

    That Turtle Farm should be completely closed down and Government should attempt to sell whatever assets can be sold  as each year the poor taxpayers have to subsidize that farm to the tune of CI$10 million in order that some persons can have big time jobs.The Government  needs to do something drasticallly about that "millstone" around its neck.

    • Anonymous says:

      One of Mac's boondoggle success stories

    • Anonymous says:

      Turtle farm isn't spending that much when you look at what they spend on dept. of family and social services. Hey how about this, you all pay proper salaries to all the laborers here and maybe that 60 million will go down by 10 million????

  14. Viva La Revolucion! says:

    If Columbus had come ashore he may have named us "Las Cucarachas" instead. 

  15. Anonymous says:

    the turtle farm…an embarassment to all humanity (except caymanians)…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh please, stop being such a bigot. It is obvious your distaste for the local people of that country leads you to make such a remarke. Farming a animal is better than plucking them out of the wild. And from what we have learnt, people will still eat no matter what law in in place. Do I like turtle? no!!! But I respect the culture of those that do. Just like how some cultures find sheep bladders and kidney pot pie to be a absolute delight (whic I do for some of those) the Caymans find delight in their turtle stew. From what I do know, from reading the local paper and such, the Turtle farm isn't the problem, it is that waste of space known as Boatswaine Beach. That is where the money is being pumped, no the farm itself.

      • Anonymous says:

        so you respect a 'culture' that eats an endangered species????? 

        and yes i do have a distaste for a society that  spend $10m per year  on sick vile faciltity that inhumanely farms an endangered species….

        it is not comparable to sustainable farming of sheep cows…etc…

      • Anonymous says:

        Are sheep an endangered species? 

      • Anonymous says:

        Ha ha you must be on the wind up right? Please tell me you're on the wind up?? Distaste for killing and eating endangered species MUST mean distaste for all Caymanians. Don't make me choke on my Kangaroo testicle sandwich.

        Sheep = not an endangered species, bred and killed humanely  and eaten by hundreds of cultures.

        Turtles (like Tigers) are endangered – this means there aren't many of them left in this world, so we really shouldn't be eating them. With me so far? Good. Well f**k cultural history, this is the real world we're in here – didn't see Hawaii struggle to come to terms with their change in culture  when they were banned from hunting sea turtles over 30 years ago (yes this shows just how behind us guys are with this).

        • Anonymous says:

          comparing cayman to hawaii?….welll said!

          hawians are a real island people with real culture and traditions…….

  16. Anonymous says:

    So should sale of meat be also halted while ctf figures out appropriate testing prior to release?  I mean if the current testing for release is not adequate what makes us believe that the testing done prior to releasing the endangered turtles to the butcher block is adequate?  I don't want to eat a bad turtle you know what I mean? Water color at ctf does not seem to be turquoise like their natural water environment off SMB so in my non-expert opinion I would say there's a better chance of having an ill turtle at the ctf than if you hunted one down at rum point.  So what's the testing like for sale of meat?  Which independent (ie. non govt) health agency is approving this meat for human consumption?

    • Anonymous says:

      Every Caymanian or Non Caymanian that consumes the meat from the farm approves the meat for consumption. Tastes good to me!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I say, if it's a symbol of hope, just eat it. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Whats more shocking is the amount of antibiotics and hormones that the FDA demes "acceptable" for human consumption, that is found in beef and chicken. Even worse is the slack rules as it relates to farmed fish and shrimp. THAT should worry people more than what is possibly being consumed in turtle stew!!

    • Unnalookya says:

      The turtle farm said they want to do health screening tests on turtles before they release them into the sea.  Seems logical then that whatever-it-is they want to check for, is something that might risk affecting other turtles in the sea if they hang around with a released turtle infected with whatever-it-is. Make sense?  So unless you're a turtle and therefore susceptible to turtle illnesses, chances are you shouldn't have to worry about catching whatever-it-is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anyway it's just a fact of life that bacteria and other stuff are often present in the animals we eat.  "Raw meat" on Wikipedia lists a whole bunch of "disease-carrying pathogens" that often infect everything from beef to poultry to seafood.  Even some fresh vegetables aren't exempt.  Not something we relish chatting about over dinner, but it's just the way it is.


      Take one example.  It's no secret that many times chickens, reptiles, even pigs are infected with salmonella which is a type of bacteria that could also cause illness in humans, not just the animals.  So do we shut down the chicken and farms and quit eating chicken and pork?  Not in the world I live in!  The simple way we get rid of these fairly common "pathogens" from all these meats is we cook the meat properly and follow safe food handling guidelines – problem solved!


      If you cook your turtle meat before you eat it, don't worry be happy and enjoy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Can't safely release them into the wild due to health issues, but selling them to eat–no problemo, only $9 a pound. I'd like to ask Dr Mustin to send you copies of all this research they keep talking about since none of it is available on their website, and none of Dr Mustin's turtle research is evident on the internet. If I was the suspicious type, I'd think they were worried about activists protesting at the release.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please check http://www.turtle.ky/scientific-paper  for the scientific papers listed on the Cayman Turtle Farm website.  Where there are links to the published study on-line, these are provided.  There is also current research underway that is not yet published. Once a study is published, it is added to the listing on the site.                     

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, I was looking at their main site. The site referred to above shows 4 entries by Dr. Mustin, all of which appear to be the same "paper" delivered four times during 2010. You can't tell for sure because the "paper" or "presentation" or whatever it is is not available. Checking 10 other random items in the list of research did not reveal any that were sponsored by the turtle farm. It appears to be a list of green turtle research all over the world, but you can't tell for sure unless you pay to buy the papers. So far it appears to add up to the usual unsupported hype.

        • Anonymous says:

          All of the studies were preformed in conjunction with and using the resources of the Cayman Turtle Farm. It is the only facility in the world with a closed cycle of breeding and with turtles of all ages to study.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello Anonymous 05/11/2013 – 16:42.

      You said none of the turtle research is available on the turtle farm's website or evident on the internet – but did you actually try looking for it?

      I decided to check this out for myself, so I just Googled "cayman islands turtle farm". The first listing was for http://www.turtle.ky and when I clicked on that it showed right up top a"Research & Conservation" section with a pop-down list showing "Scientific Papers".  That takes you to many pages of lists of research papers – didn't count them all but for sure there are a whole lot of research articles listed right there.  Most of the article listings include web addresses so I also tried clicking on a few of those.  They showed the actual research papers.  Seemed pretty easy to get to for anyone who's interested in that sort of thing.

      Out of curiousity I then Googled "turtle farm research" and again the first listing took me to the turtle farm's webpage for research & conservation showing a big blue button for "Scientific Papers" to get to those lists.

      Either way it was pretty easy to find lots of the turtle research you flat out claimed wasn't there.

      Leads me to wonder if many of those who are so quick to criticize the farm have even really made any effort to double check the things they claim as facts.  Or is it just too irresistible to jump onto the criticism bandwagon and not let bothersome details like the real facts get in the way?

    • Anonymous says:

      The research is easy to find on their website and on the internet, if you actually try looking for it!  Just google cayman turtle research and click on the first listing on google.  It goes to the turtle farm's website on their research & conservation page where you can click on "Scientific Papers" to see all the research.  Lots of it page after page after page.


      There are none so blind as those who will not see!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Isn't that number 10 Million Dollars that it sucks out of Cayman every year. This place is nothing but a parasite on Caymans Financial portfolio. And that fact that it's clled the Turtle Farm means that it's not about conservation but producing Turtle meat for consumption and profit. Sad fact is that they never make a penny..

    The truth is that the CIG pays 10 Million Dollars a year so that people can eat turtle steaks.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Change the name to Cayman Clown Farm.

    • Anonymous says:

      nah thats the LA……

    • SSM345 says:

      That is another body in Cayman, also known as the Legislative Assembly, the ROC wouldn't allow you to have two organisations with the same name.

  20. Cayman /: says:

    I appeal to our politicians:  If you are for conservation, please release all the adult turtles. Some of them I feel have never seen freedom and they are more cost to upkeep and quarantine them. Please.. the farm needs to stick to its original conservation mission when it began and stop being used as some tourist attraction for government monies!  This is a national shame!  There are 8000 turtles and you don't need that many turtles locked up in prisons for life!  At least get rid of half of them.. at least release a 1000 at a time in a matter of 4 years. Keep only the little ones until they grow up and release them!  Stop this festering, cramping-up and accumalation of turtles which is bad for their health and an eyesore to the world. The same way we treat our animals is reflective to the world how we will treat our own people. So I appeal to all the politicians, please act and do the right thing! 

    • Anonymous says:

      And I hope that you are someone who lives by your principles. I hope you don't eat eggs from those poor locked up hens doing 2 to life. Or a steak from those poor cows that are crammed in those CAFO's. Or as usual, we don't like this particular one because those "little island people'' that some of us can't stand, enjoy turtle?! I bet thats it.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Remember the one we released a year or two ago and put a tracking device on it?

      We tracked it until it ended up in the mountains of Nicaragua – so apparently the happy fisherman that caught it – even ate the tracking device…

  21. Old Timer says:

    One big, expensive joke. Shut it down now.

    • SSM345 says:

      Shut down Mac's brainchild, Botswain Beach, leave open the turtle farm, it was doing just fine before the bottomless pit was chauffered in by "The Gardener and his Cronies". I think it backfired in his face when he realised the "sangwich eata's" couldn't actually afford to go through it's pearly gates and rather than do what any prudent business man would do i.e. shut it down because it failed, he would rather keep it running at a loss of 10 million a year that we all have to pay.


      Or shall we close down one of the only places on the planet that breeds endangered sea turltes to be relased into the wild? Note these turltes are bred in captivity, so they wouldn't exist but for the turtle farm. The disease etc comes from Botswains beach and the water in their tanks which is circulated throughout the whole development, turlte tanks included, ask anyone who has ever had to climb in one and clean it.