UK to fund turtle survey

| 23/01/2014

(CNS): Experts from the Department of Environment (DoE) have received funding from the UK’s Darwin Project to conduct research on how much turtle meat is being consumed locally and to look at the impact of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s release programme on the wild population. The DoE will look at how many of the wild turtles nesting here were originally from the farm and other data. Following meetings with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and government this month, officials said talks had been positive, with the charity accepting the cultural significance of turtle to Cayman while government accepted the need to stop promoting meat to visitors and rethink releasing farmed turtles into the wild.

“These concerns will be investigated further through research conducted by the Department of Environment and their project partners via Darwin Plus funding made available by the UK Government,” the Cayman government said in a joint release with the WSPA, which has spent the last two years campaigning to transition the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) into a real conservation research centre.

Following a more cordial meeting with the new administration and WSPA than in the past, the government agreed to address all the appropriate concerns that have been raised by the charity about the conditions at the farm as well as to undertake the research.

“This long-term study will also look into the effectiveness of the turtle-release programme and potential contribution of releases to wild populations of turtles,” it said. The WSPA said it was pleased to learn that the future release of farm-raised turtles has been suspended until the findings of the research are available.

The announcement of the research and the funding follows concerns raised by a report from the UK parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee on Sustainability in the UK Overseas Territories, which specifically pointed to issues at the Cayman Turtle Farm. The committee visited the public section as well as its behind-the-scenes turtle breeding operations and found discrepancies surrounding the farm’s claims in relation to demand in Cayman for turtle meat.

“There remains some dispute whether the Cayman Turtle Farm is creating an artificial market in the tourist industry by encouraging visitors to eat a meat that the majority of indigenous people now shun,” the report noted. The farm has argued that wild turtles would be poached were it not for the farmed turtles it raises but the 25% price reduction last year raises questions about the real level of demand.

The committee also found that the cost of the government-owned company and the almost $10 million annual subsidy from the public purse, an amount four times greater than the annual budget of the Department of Environment and 20 times greater than funding for the Cayman Islands National Trust, was of significant concern to the environmental committee. The committee also drew attention in the report to the August 2012 incident when over 300 green turtles at the CTF were killed after a leak from a seawater pipe leftthem to dry out without water in a holding container.

Committee members also witnessed several large wild turtles trying to swim from the sea up the sewage outflow channel from the farm when they visited. 

“It is conceivable that those were female turtles which had been released from the farm and which were following their natural instinct to return to where they were hatched to lay their eggs,” they observed in the report and welcomed WSPA’s proposal to transition the farm to a wildlife rehabilitation and rescue facility.

“We are pleased that the UK Environment Audit Committee has brought further attention to the extensive ongoing problems at the Cayman Turtle Farm, including its significant drain on the public purse, considerable animal welfare problems, and creation of an international market for turtle meat, which is stoking demand that would not otherwise exist for an endangered species,” said Dr Neil D’ Cruze, WSPA Head of Wildlife Policy and Research, when he arrived in Cayman recently.

However, following the constructive talks with the DoE and other government officials, he said the charity was delighted that funding had been secured to investigate the true level of demand for turtle meat and the impact of releasing farmed turtles.

“It is clear that the information generated by this study will greatly inform effective decision making regarding the long-term future of the farm, including the possibility of its transition into a rehabilitation and release facility,” Dr D’Cruze added. “We also applaud the Cayman Islands Government for working with us in such a positive manner to identify critical short-term steps that can be taken to help alleviate the immediate animal welfare concerns at the farm.”

The charity is particularly pleased that there will be no more turtle releases from the farm until the conclusions of this study are made available and that various stakeholders will explore how to limit the promotion of sea turtle meat to visiting international tourists.

The facility is the last remaining sea turtle farm in the world, with over 9,500 endangered green sea turtles currently held there, having been bred to meet what is now a questionable demand. The WSPA said it believes the farm has lost its original sense of purpose and is now seriously undermining the health and welfare of sea turtles farmed on its premises.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (74)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Whodatis says:

    (I see deflecting people.)

    Such a fascinating array of ad hominem attacks on the anonymous entity that is Whodatis.

    You guys have truly outdone yourselves this time!


    • Anonymous says:

      W – I just clicked troll for the h— of it. lol.  This just gets boring after awhile.  Seem old seem old.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh and turtle meat is nasty.  It's just oil clogging your arteries.  I'm a Caymanian and I know plenty Caymanians that don't eat it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I'm not deflecting anything.

      I have accused you of being a racist and further down this thread I have used your own words to support this – without rebuttal I notice. 

      So I say to the individual behind whodatis. " At least have the self-respect to stand up and be counted for what you are" – I trust you recognize your own advice to closet racists.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Friends don't let friends eat turtle.

  3. Confused says:

    14.32 I will have to agree with William Wallace's comments. The point is just like Alaska, whereby Eskimos still hunt seal and bear as their sole staple, born caymanians should have that right. There's nothing racial about the comment as you would try to make it out to be. 

    If you have a population whereby permit holders out numbers the locals why would you give them license to hunt turtle when they probably don't eat  turtle? Get the point?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hunting seal, bears and whales is a little more manly than flipping turtles over on their backs.

  4. William Wallace says:

    Every born caymanian should be able to hunt turtle, lobster, conch and welks. Whether with daily  limits or special grants if you are unemployed or you trade is that of a fisherman. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I think human rights will disagree on the born Caymanian bit as being racist and technically incorrect. Animal rights will kill off the rest. So what was your point?

    • Anonymous says:

      I'd be more sympathetic if you were talking about a whaling tradition like on Bequia in the Grenadines. Grabbing turtles off the beach is just lazy.

  5. Buffalo Bill says:

    Stop giving the turtle farm our $10,000,000 per year and see how they get along!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Close the farm, issue a limited number of hunting tags per year to born Caymanian, competent, honest fishermen and fix the price hunted turtle met can sell for. Enforce the new law and levy stiff fines and penalties on poachers. Case closed. Yes there is provision in the law for certain licenced Caymanians to hunt turtle but to my knowledge only a very few have licenses.

    P.S. If an Eskimo can hunt polar bear then certain Caymanians should be traditionally be allowed by law to hunt turtle. 

    • Anonymous says:

      The reason so few get licences now is because there are so few turtles left in the wild that any more legal catch would result in practically no wild turtles left. (Practically = what it was like ~15 years ago when I barely saw a turtle on my regular diveing/boating.)

      • SSM345 says:

        BS, turtles swim by my yard daily in the wild, stop talking crap.

        They also lay eggs yearly on the beach that I grew up on and have done since I was born. Last year the babies hatched and started crawling down the road like they were going get a patty from the gas station.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes. and how many individual turtles nested on your beach?

          And how many years of fishing would it take to catch that number of individuals?

          And how many individual turtles woudl you suggest the fishermen be allowed to take each year?

          And how many turtles were nesting on that beach 15 years ago?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Inuit (not Eskimo) people have strict quotas on polar bear set by their own councils. They also have great respect for the animals and their souls, something not regarded in Cayman turtle killing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Eskimo is more appropriate than Inuit because the Yupik hunt polar bear too and they are not Inuits.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As was noted before on threads, the most effective campaigning to end the disgrace that is the turtle farm will take place in London, which is where the decision to close it down will effectively be taken. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    Turtle Meat has been a local dish that I have enjoyed from I was a small child of course back then it was brought in from Mosquito Keys and I continue to enjoy the one we can purchase from the Turtle Farm and I hope to for many years to come.

    Why is it everything the Caymanian People love and is part of our Hertiage the Foreigners, WSPA in this case want to take away or tell us why we can't or shouldn't have this or that?

    I wish that some of the old Caymanian men that went Turtling were still with us today and I knew a few that would have an answer to blow them WSPA right out of the water.


    • Anonymous says:

      My great-great grandparents may have enjoyed slavery–some traditions excused by "culture" need to go.

      • Anonymous says:

        Eating and enjoying Turtle Meat is a far cry from your ancestors being slaves. So back off!!


        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, it is probably more on a par with genital mutilation.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually not, s;avery was a tradition in Cayman for hundreds of years, until the British put an end to it in Cayman.

          In fact there were so many Caymanians so upset with losing their tradion of owning people to mistreat that 50% of them left for the Bay Islands and Swan Island.

          Your turtle farm costs everyman woman and child in Cayman 200 dollars a yeat to keep open, if they eat turtle or not.

          If you want your farm, stop taking our money and put yours were your turtle stuffed mouth is and you and your buddies subsidise it.

          See you much turlte you will like if you have to pay 1,000 a year for it?

          • Anonymous says:

            Actually what you did not include  was that the British was one of the mother  countries that started the slave  trade. So  please dont go  as if they british are inocent in this.

            And to throw in the original caymanian people are actually a mixture of fomer slaves and a few owners.

            • Anonymous says:

              Errr no.  I think history records that slavery started from the beginning of recorded history!  The Brits didnt start it by any means.  What do you mean by 'one' of the mother countries.  Was there more than one mother country?

              • Anonymous says:

                When it comes to the Caribbean then yes they were very early  in it.

                But you are right slavery has been goingon for a long time.

                That being  said the slave trade  through the Caribbean was of a much higher order.

          • Anonymous says:

            We were the slaves fool

  9. Anonymous says:

    How much is the amount funding being received and what exactly does "long term" mean in terms of actual or estimated duration?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The answer is simple, deny entry to the WSPA in Cayman.  They're eco tyrants. 

  11. Whodatis says:

    "Islanders less important than tortoises

    In the mid-1960s, the US was worried about possible Soviet expansion in the Indian Ocean and wanted a base in the region – but one without a "population problem" which might upset the base's operation.

    A memo from then Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart to Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1969 admitted that the payment was kept secret from Parliament and the US Congress.

    The Americans' first choice was the island of Aldabra, north of Madagascar.

    Unfortunately, Aldabra was the breeding ground for rare giant tortoises, whose mating habits would probably be upset by the military activity and whose cause would be championed noisily by publicity-aware ecologists.

    "Unfortunately along with the birds go some few Tarzans or Man Fridays whose origins are obscure and who are hopefully being wished on to Mauritius" – Diplomat Dennis Greenhill, 1966

    The alternative was the Chagos Islands, part of Mauritius, then a British territory campaigning for independence.

    The islands were home to some 1,800 people – mainly descendants of slaves – but no tortoises. "

    So here we go once again folks.

    We have the British government; meddling into the affairs of an island nation, having opted to bypass far more pressing issues, overlooked said issues in order to focus on the welfare of reptiles with little to no regard for the concerns of the actual people.

    This is simply history repeating itself folks. Albeit an unknown history if pesky individuals such as myself were not tuned into certain little dirty secrets of the UK.

    Never in a million years would the Chagossians have believed that they would be so utterly and inhumanely betrayed by their British government. However, what was inflicted on them is one the most alarming crimes against humanity in the post WWII era.

    (Bear in mind that not only were the dogs and pets of the children rounded up and gassed to death, but at the time of expulsion, the people were stored in the bottom of the ships below the horses and larger livestock.)

    I trust we all understand the beastly nature of the entity with which we negotiate on a daily basis.

    At the very essence of this "relationship" it is crucial to understand that the people of the Cayman Islands are of no consequence therein.

    Do not be fooled by the politically-correct jargon and 'effery that you hear spewing out of the two-sided faces of its officials – even those locally based. Ultimately, our culture, traditions, and values are of no value whatsoever.

    I have absolutely no faith or trust in the British government. This is not my random conclusion pulled out of thin air – this is a result of what history has shown me.

    Nevertheless, rest assured there will be a wave of criticism coming my way along with a host of excuses and justifications of the behalf of the UK – even in the aforementioned case.

    In conclusion, the UK can take their study, funds, WSPA and concerns and shove it up Liz's "nerrie" (as they say over in the East)!


    • Anonymous says:

      At the time it was decided it was correct of create the Diego Garcia air base.  As a Brit I support 100% the firm stance taken against these modern activitists.

    • Union Jack says:

      Dredging up some old material again, W.  You need some new stuff.  Anyway if it was steps to protect global interests inthe cold war or moving a few Men Friday, then I think there could have been only one correct course of action.

      • Whodatis says:

        I trust you don't believe you are telling us anything we don't already know.

        The UK is filled to the brim with proud racists.

        Actually, no – correction.

        It is filled to the brim with closet racists … the worst kind. At least have the self-respect to stand up and be counted for what you are.

        Anyway, I trust you are enjoying the benefits this wonderful Black country of "Men Fridays" have afforded you, which by the way, your beloved UK could not.

        We are a "warm and friendly" people … even to assholes like yourself (and your supporters).

        Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.


        • Anonymous says:

          Why did you capitalise "Black"?  Why did you pluralise "has afforded"?  Were you too busy foaming at the mouth to type properly?

    • anon says:

      Let's take one of your claims and assess it's legitimacy.

      "…what was inflicted on them is one the most alarming crimes against humanity in the post WWII era."

      Here are just some of the crimes against humanity since WW11:

      An estimated 40m people killed under the Mao Ze Dong communist revolution.

      An estimated 1.5-2m killed by the Khmer Rouge.

      An estimated 800k killed in Rwanda in ethnic cleansings.

      An estimated 200k killed in Bosnia Herzegovina in ethnic and religious genocide.

      An estimated 6m killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ongoing civil war.


      So, your claim is not even close to reality and thus shares this characteristic with your views on just about everything. 



      • Anonymous says:

        You are right.  The "weapon of choice" for these war crimes seems to have been the alcohol consumed by the "victims".

      • Peanuts says:

        You seek to justify the crimes of your people.


        • Anonymous says:

          I'm not justifying anything, I'm just pointing out that relocating 1800 people against their will is not a crime against humanity. If it was successive PPM governments would be in serious trouble!

    • Anonymous says:

      Surely there is a lengthy and heavily one-sided documentary on Youtube about the Chagossians?

    • Anonymous says:

      Another pile of plagerised s*** from Whodatis. What a muppet.

  12. Anonymous says:

    "Committee members also witnessed several large wild turtles trying to swim from the sea up the sewage outflow channel from the farm when they visited."

    I call BS on this one. Show me video proof! 

    • Anonymous member says:

      Why should I show you proof?  Go see for yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually – I was surprised to see a turtle in the outflow channel when I last visited. I wouldn't say it was particularly large, but it was there.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Put that money into getting Caymanians jobs!!  If they think any study is going to show Caymanians giving up their turtle they are dreaming…..Ms Petrie, take that money and do something useful with it. UK, go study your chicken and cow farms, go study how you make blood sausage, study what else you kill when fishing for your fish n chips…..look at home and leave our turtles alone.  Caymanians remain silent until they are pushed against the wall…then hell breaks out. 

    • Anonymous says:

      You do realise that if the UK tookt hat money and did as you suggested none of it would come to Cayman, right? Will it make you feel better if they called it science tourism?

    • Anonymous says:

      These things ARE surveyed and studied in the UK – and the animal welfare groups constantly monitor the factory farms (which is effectively what the turtle farm is). They regularly force the closure of factory farms, both through direct action and legal prosecutions (including putting members as undercover in the farms, to film and document abuse of animals).

      The difference between cows, chickens and turtles is simple – turtles are a rare and an endangered wild animal, not a common domesticated animal, bred over the millenia for placidity.

      Stop thinking about your stomache and turn the Turtle Farm into a serious eco-tourism  attraction and you will get a lot of good press for the Cayman Islands, as well as a boost to tourism (and maybe even a return on the tens on millions spent on the whole project so far).

      And by the way – it's called black pudding, not blood pudding. it's very tasty and not made from anything that's on the CITES endangered species list.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There is no "cultural significance" defence.  The scientific work is a facade to maintain a concentration camp for endangered animals for food.  Let's hope this investigation leads to the end of the place.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Just another way to take something away from Caymanians, consuming turtle has been to Caymanians what turkey & ham is to Americans a tradition. If they really want to help the Turtle situation give them the money they need to build something more inviting to really BOOST interest for visitors, give them something to boast to their friends how they experienced something really unique at the CAYMAN TURTLE FARM.

     The present attractions at the Turtle Farm doesn't have anything there that really stands out! 

    As for the subject at hand, the cost of the delcious turtle has drastically limited those who could once afford to purchase turtle meat on a regular basis, if Turtle Farm dropped the turtle 5lbs lots to $10-15 per lot and hours of sale from 9am-2pm so all the Turtle Lovers can collect that mouthwatering delicious turtle. 



  16. Whodatis says:

    Who the rass asked the UK to fund anything in the Cayman Islands?

    Why? So thereafter they can bombard the global masses with shiny stats and "findings" regarding the "natural environment in their overseas territories"?!

    The UK has a long history of screwing us over whenever they put boots and dollars on the ground in these islands. We should always be suspicious of any unsolicited "help" from that despicable, stuck-in-the-past, colonial-obsessed entity that is the British government.

    Hmmm … come to think of it, this reminds me of the beginning stages of the expulsion and displacement of the (British) Chagossians from their homeland a few years back.

    Those in the know will recall that their island, Diego Garcia, was selected for clearance over that of an uninhabited one on the basis that the uninhabited was home to certain rare species.

    *The British government has a pesky habit of ranking the welfare of animals over that of non-White, sub-human ("Tarzans and Man Fridays")  British citizens.

    (Hey, they did it – I'm only talking about it … so direct your anger in the right direction please. Cheers!)

    Anyway, this is all very interesting.


    • Pit Bull says:

      Chagos Bingotastic!  Chagossians and turtle eating in one post.  Wonderful.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh Jesus, my one trick pony life must be over. I laughed at Pit Bull's post.

      • Judean People's front says:

        Wow, double pay out. So who gets the George Foreman grill and the years supply of sham wows car cleaning kits?

    • Anonymous says:

      Who the rass asked the UK to fund anything in the Cayman Islands?

      It seems to poster above  you has for starters.

      It always complain, caomplain, complain about the UK, then in the next sentence they should give us more stuff.


    • Anonymous says:

      Where as Cayman killed all the Caimians that gave the country it name. It appears you are failing in the stewardship that God asked of you

    • Willow the Wisp says:

      I did.  I asked them. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Whodatis you're sounding racist. Remember our forefathers originally came from Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland also. We are also descendants from Africa. If all we going to bring up is our past . How will we move forward? Black people married white people in our past and they knew more about slavery and stigmatism then you . So if they could love each other and have children, what really is the problem?? We need to keep to the present and look for the future. Remember Mandela, Martin luther King.

      • Whodatis says:

        Is this sarcasm?

        If not, then I am very happy to learn that you are so opposed to my viewpoint.

        I take comfort in the fact that such a simple-minded and defeatist perspective does not align with mine.

        Slap yourself please.

        How exactly does reference to histoical facts of official racist policies on the part of a government equate to one being a racist?

        (in fact, it is not a reference to "white people" or any particular race at all. Again, it is a reference to factual racism inflicted by a government on its own people.)

        If you dig a little deeper you will find the true motivation for your objection to my post. It is based on fear.

        RACE and its role in the formation, attitude and respective value in the British empire sacres the hell out of you.

        Grow up.

        *I am sure the Chagossians, in the wake of WWII, Nazi Germany, the advance in international human rights, the ongoing Civil Rights struggle in America, etc. never believed that their own government would sell them down the river simply because they were non-White. Would you advise them to "not bring up the past"?

        Would you advise Jews to "stop bringing up the past"? The USA and UK constantly hold onto the past as it regards Iran, Russia, North Korea, Cuba etc. In fact, turn on your television right now and witness for yourself the global stalemate as it regards the Syria situation in the latest Davos meeting. Why it is happening? Because of the PAST, my friend.

        History creates today's context and the present must always be assessed within its proper context. However, according to you, it would be better for us to remove all context from the situation and skip along all happy-hands.

        You need to grow up, my friend, and realize the real reason why some support your happy-go-lucky attitude in this regard. You arehollow within.

        Lastly, I trust you will address the CLEAR instances of blatant racism in this very thread – otherwise, I call "bullshit" on everything that is you.

        Slap yourself twice, in fact.


        • Anonymous says:

          Does anyone else find it amazing that the uk is entirely responsible for all the wrongs in the world? Or should we get whodatis sectioned for he is in top nutter mode right now. When you read his comments you could be forgiven for thinking Cayman is under direct rule and the uk is screwing cayman and that caymans plight has nothing to do with its own wonderful elected by Caymanian politicos or screwed up views on the world. Even Joey fessed up, finally, when is reality going to slap W around the face?

        • anon says:

          A clear instance of racism eh? How about :


          " The UK is filled to the brim with proud racists.

          Actually, no – correction.

          It is filled to the brim with closet racists … the worst kind."


          You know but the smallest fraction of 1% of the population of the UK yet you claim it isfilled to the brim with racists – closet or otherwise. Clearly you are pre-judging millions of people you don't know and you are finding them racist.  Why?  Simply because they are predominantly white. I call this racist. Call bullshit all you want, you are a racist and dispicable. 

        • Anonymous says:

          I don't think that hashtag will catch on.

          • Whodatis says:

            Well, it clearly caught your interest.

            (Geesh, like shooting fish in a barrel.)


    • Truthseeker says:

      Every scientific organization and individual who applies for a grant from the UK is asking for funding. They offer, people or organisations apply, grants are made. Deal with the truth, not that despicable, stuck-in-the-past, colonial-obsessed entity that is Whodatis. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Who the rass asked you or your ancestors to come here as an immigrant and live, after all, the original Caymanians were British? Go back to Jamaica, Honduras, Cuba or where ever the hell you and your ancestors came from and leave his territory forever. This is a British territory, always has been, and if you don't want it that way, try and take it from us hero.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I used to eat turtle stew, wonderful dish, but I stopped because of what I saw at the Farm and general concerns about cruelty and the disappearance of the species . How will views like mine be recorded?

    • SSM345 says:

      Guess what day it is?

      Friiidddaaayyy!!!!!! And that means three thing:

      (i) Its the weekend

      (ii) Its turtle stew for lunch a Luz's

      (iii) cultural fatigue wil be in full force this afternoon.

      So, who's coming with me?

  18. Anonymous says:


    A survey to see how much turtle is consumed. WSPA needs to keep away from our Islands and allow us to live and eat what we have enjoyed for hundreds of years. They fail to realize that is they close the Turtle farm we are going to go in the wild and porch them there. What part of this don’t they understand.

  19. Anon says:

    Survey? Doesnt CTF have accounting records showing total sales of turtle meat? Since it is govt owned and we, the people, spend 10 mil each year to keep it in business,  shouldnt the records be made public? UK, get the auditor general to do acouple of audit procedures on sales of meat and let's see the results.  Much more credible than a survey, unless the auditor general cannot audit the balance for some reason, of course.