Turtle expert calls for change at CTF

| 17/10/2014

(CNS): A leading marine turtle specialist has waded in on the debate about the Cayman Turtle Farm and the need to transition the controversial facility from supplying meat to genuine conservation. Marydele Donnelly, currently the director of international policy at the Sea Turtle Conservancy who has worked as a conservation advocate for more than 30 years said the farm poses a threat to the Cayman economy and the conservation of wild green sea turtle populations. Donnelly who was also the program officer at the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group and director of the Sea Turtle Conservation Program for the Ocean Conservancy has co-authored a paper about the farm with Dr Neil D’Cruze, from World Animal Protection and Rachel Alcock.

D’Cruze has been spearheading the WPA campaign to transform the turtle farm after the UK based animal rights charity exposed a catalogue of problems at the farm. In the new scientific paper published by the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics entitled “The Cayman Turtle Farm: Why We Can’t Have Our Green Turtle and Eat it Too.” Focuses on the concerns that by supplying meat the farm is perpetuating and promoting the consumption of this endangered species.

“I am proud to have worked on such an important research paper which highlights the threats that the Cayman Turtle Farm poses to both the Cayman economy and the conservation of wild green sea turtle populations, “ Said Donnelly. “Our arguments are clear: the millions of dollars ploughed into the Cayman Turtle Farm each year could be much better spent on protecting green sea turtles in the wild, using tried and tested methods which have been shown to yield real results.”

The WPA campaign, launched in 2012, has already highlighted severe animal welfare concerns associated with the Farm which is now the place in the world which raises endangered sea turtles for meat. This new paper adds conservation concerns to the growing list of rationale for why the Cayman Turtle Farm cannot carry on with its current mode of operation. The authors put forward the case that sea turtle farming comes at an astronomic economic cost. 

The paper reiterates the WPA’s call for the Farm to transition into a sea turtle rehabilitation center that fully protects the animals in its care. The authors cite the example of Kelonia on Réunion Island, a facility which has successfully and profitably transitioned from a commercial sea turtle farm to a rehabilitation and education facility.

This new research paper also echoes some of the findings in the recent Ernst & Young report which recommends significant operational change at the Cayman Turtle Farm as it sucks some $10million a year from the public purse.

“World Animal Protection was delighted to read the findings of the recent Ernst & Young report,” Said D’Cruze. “It echoes the findings contained within our new scientific paper for the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.”

The WPA also revealed that the Cayman Islands Government has still not formally responded to the charity after it had engaged in talks with the WPA over potential changes at the farm as well as a survey conducted by the DoE about the level of demand for the meat.

“We once again urge the Cayman Islands Government to take an objective look at this growing body of evidence and to transition away from sea turtle farming as a conservation tool,”  D’Cruze said.

The scientific paper can be downloaded here:

See realted story on CNS

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Even just a brief glimpse of WPA's website shows that they do work on factory farming, and bullfighting;



    So now that is cleared up – is it ok for them to comment on the turtle farm?

    With regards to the release programme – the Farm has released turtles intothe sea for year and years and has told us all that this is all that is needed. There has been little to no tagging or recording of what happens to the turtles once released. In fact the Farm can only show that after all these years in operation 13 turtles nest on the beach as a result of their efforts. Is that really enough to justify the cost?

    Also, it is understood that turtles need to imprint on the beach on which they were born in order to navigate their way back to lay their own eggs. How on earth would a turtle at the Farm know where to come back to seeing as it was born on a fake beach? The Farm cannot show that its release programme is a success.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Privatize the farm, improve conditions, have an adoption program, raise some for meat to discourage poaching, encourage tourist $ donations, teach conservation and sustainability practices in the wild, divert government $ to infrastructure, social services and fighting crime.

    • Anonymous says:

      … Give Lucky-M a million a year cuz it's his baby….

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats way too much work.  Think of all the expats they will have to hire to get it done and all the crying that Caymanians will do.  Foolish idea from the start but for some reason all the voters in West bay think its the greatest thing ever.  So of course nothing will ever get done or changed and uncle Joey has a job when he gets out.

  3. Green Hornet says:

    As usual it's not that simple. Regardless of what you think of the turlle farm, it feeds the Caymanian addiction to turtle meat. If you eliminate the farm, that addiction will not go away. It will just be fed by the poachers, who already illegally take a fair chunk of the wild population.

    Perhaps an increase in the number of DOE cops, plus the elimination of turtle fishing licences might be a more sensible use of money – if we are to believe that we have an obligation to protect endangered species. Or maybe most folks just don't care where it comes from, as long as they can feed their addiction. Comparisons to factory farming of cattle, pigs and chickens are totally irrelevant to this argument.

    • Naysayer says:

      Hello Green Hornet, 

      Thanks for a balanced view, not what the anti-tree huggers would have expected I think, 

    • Anonymous says:

      Care to expand on why farming other animals is irrelevant to this debate? 

      • Green Hornet says:

        OK, let's see. Ummmm – when did you last see seriously large scale poaching of endangered populations of cows, pigs or chickens? Oh, except a local community that goes after Cayman's wild chicken population. But that doesn't seem to be endangered right now, does it?

  4. RP says:

    I have no problem with Caymanians farming turtles for consumption.  However, I have an issue with the farm's restaurant, the pool, the disgusting lagoon, water slide, fish tank etc.  let's go back to 10 years ago when the turtle farm was just that and not marketed as a water park.

    the reason it doesn't make a profit is because as a tourist attraction it sucks. Close all so called attractions, sell the land and be aCaymanian turtle farm. Oh while you are at it free those dolphins and close that so called attraction down as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only problem with this is that no one would be willing or able to write off the enormous debt that we now have as a result of Big Macs grand scheme. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Debt, wana talk debt? Ok, look at those MILLION $$$$ schools PPM built and COULDN'T finish mind you.

  5. B. Hurlstone says:

    I have eaten turtle steak and found it to be pretty good……  but I don't eat it anymore.  For starters,  I feel that our conservation laws prohibiting the slaughter of turtles were enacted for a reason…… turtles are becoming fewer and fewer in the wild.   I find it unbelievable that any Caymanian or ANY sane person would approve anything like $10,000,000 dollars a year to help enrich a few people associated with the turtle farm.  What do they do with our money?  Yes, OUR money, which belongs to the public, not some poorly-run business.   I read that the turtle farm had released 30,000 turtles.  I don't know if this figure is accurate or not, but that isn't many turtles for the length of time the business has been in operation. I have also read that only one turtle out of a thousand survives to adulthood.  If this is true, that means only 30 turtles have been added to the wild green turtle population.  How many turtles were slaughtered for human consumption during the time the turtle farm has operated? 

    Since the turtle farm is subsidized by our government, could we get some records as to where our $10,000,000 has been going?  Also, how much is taken in by tourism and dead turtle meat sales?

    • Anonymous says:

      No argument from me about the losses.

      BUT most of these losses are interest payments on the loan taken out to build the place.

      Even if you close it down tomorrow the loan will need to be paid off by the taxpayer.


      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        Is the loan guaranteed by the government?  If not then there is an easy solution – declare bankruptcy and restructure its finances.  

        • Anony-me says:

          Unfortunately the loan is guaranteed by the Government, AFAIK, as common with Government Companies. Its why the Airports Authority is having to plan over multiple years to rebuild the airport(s) in a staged manner with recurring revenue; the Government can't afford to guarantee another loan.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't have it "For starters".  have it as a main course.

    • Anonymous says:

       19:21.You state " I have also read that only one turtle out of a thousand survives to adulthood."   This figures refers to survival in the wild,where most hatchlings do not even reach the water.The majority of turtles released by the CTF were 2 or 3 years old meaning that the survival rate is much higher than the 1 in 1000 that you mention.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Both sides here may have some merit.

    But for me, it's the $10 million per year that's a huge reason to do something differently!

    Maybe raise the price again (though i really can't imagine that making up the huge deficit!) It's just unfair to have everyone pay somuch so some can eat anything.

    Especially when we need money in so many other areas.

    • Anony-me says:

      Except the $10mil is to subsidise Bosun's Beach, mostly. If you could seperate teh farm from the torusit white-elephant then maybe there could be a rational discusion. But as long as the two are linked …

  7. Anonymous says:

    What these idiots do not seem to be able to grasp is that a large number of Caymanians are not going to stop eating turtle, whether the Turtle Farm is in business or not. Close the farm, and not only do you stop the releases, but you put wild turtles at a much higher risk of poaching.


    I would bet big money that if these 'conservationists' ever succeed in stopping the farming, the number of turtles laying eggs on our beaches will decline drastically, as the wild population is slowly wiped out.

  8. A Bear-Faced-Lawyer says:

    I never knew that there were so many misinformed people in Cayman who know nothing about our history and our connection to the sea turtle. Yet these are the ignorant ones who I refer to as the "Thumbs Downers" I wish they would take the time to study our history and learn why this meat is such a part of tradition in the island.

    Try  learning something about us, before you start to criticize! And since it seems to make you happy [tho it won't change anything]  just keep on down thumbing, while we smile and enjoy our deliciously healthy turtle dishes, and you continue to eat the meat of those poor abused, unhealthy animals from the slaughter houses of the world. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    Native inhabitants of virtually every nation in the world have given up their "historical" diets in response to the fact that ao many of the world's animals is so seriously endangered. Native North American's are no longer killing whales and other endangered animals … just because they ate them "historically" … Wake up … the world is not the same place that it was when Caymanian's consumed turtle meat as a staple in their diet. Historically turtles surrounded these islands in abundance … obviously they no longer do! The natural environment, including Green Sea turtles, need protection … not continued explotation. Obviously the fact that the financially strapped Cayman Islands Government subsidises the Turtle Farm makes the entire project that much more ridiculous. Sell the Turtle Farm to a private entity and create a world class conservation facility. Donations to "adopt a turtle" would come from all over the world to support the facility. Converting the facility to a marine rehab & conservation facility would shine a light on Cayman as an example of an enlightened society that supports conservation & the environment  (granted Cayman would have to get rid of the poor captive dolphins too! Another truly misguided project!).

    • Anonymous says:

      16:54.Of course you know that the reason that the turtle population was so seriously depleted was because from the time of Columbus Europeans captured thewm to take back on their journey home.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, they don't know this 12:12. They dont know shit about OUR history. Heck, they even tellin' us now there is no such thing as a Caymanian. Check THAT out!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Who ARE these people who come here and try to tell us what to do ?

    I dont understand why they have to butt in constantly

    STOP the needless slaughter at the Bull fights worls wide , THEN we talk turtle

    Thank you

  11. Anonymous says:

    I think Mr D'Cruze should take a closer look and perhaps he will realize that the Turtle Farm actually helps to preserve turtles.For example if a hatchling is kept at the CTF for even one year it's chances are greatly increased.If the same hatchling is left in the wild we will find that 70%  of them do not even reach the water;some head inland and are lost ,others are eaten by birds and crabs;should they manage to reach the water another high percentage of hatchlings are eaten by fish.Out of a nbatch of 80 hatchlings ,perhaps as little as four or five will actuaaly live to be one year old. I believe the success rate at the CTF is a lot more than five out of  eighty. In the wild maybe only one of eighty will actually reach maturity.A lot more are killed in fishing nets in the wild than are slaughtered at the CTF ,yet Mr D'Cruze chooses to ignore this fact.Perhaps he enjoys the all expense paid trips to this resort island ,and dining out at an expensive restaurant.

  12. Anonymous says:

    REALLY ?  you could not find a better picture ?????

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn't you know that CNS is a part of the anti-Turtle Farm propaganda machine?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The time these experts take and worry about Caymanians (Born Native ) and their culture there's alot worst things that taking place in this world in thier own countries to worry about  than a a two by four island thats eating Turtle meat.

  14. Anony-me says:

    CNS Please fact-check your stories. As WSPA said in their earlier press releases (though I assume they have stopped saying it now) and as the Kelonia website themselves point out, Kelonia are partly government funded. They are NOT making a profit as claimed. So WSPA is merely saying that we should stop subsidising one type of turtle farm and replace it with another type of operation. Because it make economic sense to them. But thats what passes for logic with them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The culture excuse is as a valid as when it is used for bullfighting, bearbaiting and female genital mutilation.  If the "culture" is that backwards it needs ditching.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Save your advice for those who are interested in doing the right thing.   Cayman culture is all about doing what ever you want and trying to get away with it as long as you can period.  It was a Caymanian idea to spend all the money on this venture that is now costing the public purse millions every year and they still think it is a great idea.  Ask Bush what he thinks, get someone to interpret for you and you will see what the Caymanian people want.  Turtles were put on the earth for food and nothing else.  The fact that the public pays and pays so a few can eat turtle just makes the meat sweeter.

  17. Turtle power says:

    We just need to get these tree huggers to try a plate of stew turtle once. Only then will they be on our side.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is quite foul. 

    • Anonymous says:

      10:51.You are so right.We might have to trick them into thinking it is some new beef or pork dish ,then after they have had seconds we let them know that it was turtle.After that they will be on our side.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Friends don't let friends munch turtle.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Why do we even give these people space in our media to degrade our culture and heritage. We won’t sacrifice our taditions for these “experts” so why is our local media entertaining such “news”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Odd use of parenthesis.  I would think the terms that needed it most were "culture" and "heritage".

  20. Whodatis says:

    Aah boy.

    They just don't get it do they?

    The eating of turtle is here to stay guys. There are many things that Brits and Europeans eat and drink that I find absolutely outrageous, however, who am I to tell another what to eat? How arrogant and dismissive can a person be?

    Before the "but it's an endangered animal" crew jumps down my throat, may I remind them that the cow is actually the most endangered animal on the face of the planet – yet we eat millions of kilos of beef annually – if not daily.

    *P.S. In this particular instance, your ongoing protest is actually working against your alleged cause. I say that because it is not until another headline pops up regarding your futile efforts that I start feeling for some turtle stew once again. So yeah … thanks for that!

    • Anonymous says:

      And the headline is on Firday. So there's a number of restaurants serving turtle today. Mmmm.

      • Whodatis says:

        Oh yeah!

        Ridin' East on Sunday if you wanna tag along …


    • Anonymous says:

      "The eating of turtle is here to stay guys. There are many things that Brits and Europeans eat and drink that I find absolutely outrageous, however, who am I to tell another what to eat? How arrogant and dismissive can a person be?"

      Errrm, Whodatis saying "who am I to tell another what to eat?". You tell everyone else how to do everything else, and of course deem yourself unassailable, a true Hero of Cayman. Even if cows are endangered (would love to see your warped logic prove that one) there is absolutely no danger of a lack of bullshit whilst you are around!! Could be a job for you- you would almost have a monopoly.

      • Whodatis says:

        Wow poster … that sure was the extended version of how to say a lot of nothing.

        Kudos to you bub!


    • Anonymous says:

      a cow ? enangered ?  u nuts ? who told you that crap !!  lol  lol

      i can go to BK now and get a burger !!!!

      good idea ..i go now !!


    • Diogenes says:

      OK – I'll bite.  How is the cow the most endangered animal on the planet?

      • Anonymous says:

        In WHODATIS world the cow is endangered? He never fails to spin an argument that is bizarre.

        If the country needs a turtle slaughter house to provide turtle meat for local consumpton the so be it, stop the make believe turtle conservation theme park and keep it bare bones to serve the publc theirturtle meat, certainly it can be done for less than $10,000,000.00/year.

        • Anonymous says:

          He (whodatis) spins an argument which is too complex for your tiny little brains to fathum.

          Of course you all do your best to paint him as an ignorant crazy, because he is Caymanian.

          The prejudice is real my friends.

          • Whodatis says:

            Thanks poster – appreciate the support.

            And yes, it most definitely is real!


      • Anony-me says:

        You can't find a 'wild' cow, much less the animals that domesticated cows descended from. Making the 'cow' 'endangered'. (Or 'extinct'.) Its all terminology and time. Which is the linchpin of WSPA's argument. That turtles have not been domesticated long enough to loose their wild nature so they are unsuitable for domestication and so should not be farmed. The only animals that may be farmed were those that have always been farmed. So free the emus. Er, I mean turtles.

    • Whodatis says:

      To those of you pondering my "endangered cow" statement;

      I will not elaborate on the point. When you figure it out for yourselves a lot about this particular news story and thread will become clearer.

      Appreciate the feedback though.

    • Anonymous says:

      You forgot to link this to Tony Blair's alleged war crimes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the post "Whodatis", in Kazakhstan they eat HORSE meat. #Food for thought.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Sad, disgrace of place, bleeding the government coffers dry. Get rid of this thing and it's sickly turtles. Spend the money elsewhere, like securing the island against the daily robberies. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Get rid of the Turtle Farm is saying get rid of the protection for endangered animals.  Cant you educated fools see that the farm is a buffer for the demand forturtle meat and a way to preserve the turtles in the oceans.

      The TF is priceless as you cannot price the preservation of a species.

      Like the post below said, you eat beef, chicken, pork that was grown in a factory without second thought.

      No it is not the turtles natural habit but the are certainly better off than the chickens who grow so fast as to be unable to walk, if they had anymore space than the shoe box they were grown in.

      Go look at how many sickly animals are culled in the UK and US each year becuase the conditions that they are raised in are so poor.

      There is your saving grace.  But let me guess. The meat factories have more money that the CI Government to tie upany progress on that front so you are taking a shot at a smaller guys to make a name for yourselves.


      • Anonymous says:

        mmmm, nothing like talking about saving endangered species with a mouthful of sickly turtle meat. delicious.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ye, ok. Keep eating those fish out the North Sound! Should be reaaaal healthy seeing as they're sucking up all the toxins flowing out of Mt. Trashmore!!!


  22. UHUHUH` says:

    So,  Dr. Neil D'Cruze you have now recruited one Ms. Marydele Donnelly hoping that she will convince us [the people of the Cayman Islands] to refrain from eating "turtle" Our National Dish, because you want to make a name for yourselves and the WPA. I've said before if it's left to us  the day will never come when we "born" Caymanians will stop eating "turtle". IT IS A PART OF OUR CULTURE

    May I suggest Sir: Go back to Great Britain and try to stop the cruelty  being effected on those poor bovine animals being raised in confined spaces so small they cant even lie to take a nap, These poor animals are fed with growth hormones and antibiotic infested food, so that those lovers of steak [perhaps you yourself]  can sit at some restaurant enjoying dinner while discussing your mission to deprive "us" of our national dish. These turtle are raised in considerably better and more humane conditions  than the steak you and the people of Great Britain enjoy! We "do not" take animals from the ocean, our animals a born and bred right there at the farm.

    My advice to you sir, and, Ms. Donnelly, try working with us to find ways which will help to improve the operation of the Turtle Farm. Note that this is no different than what is done all over the world re the raising of meat weather from cattle ,chickens or pigs. We do not take these turtles from the sea , they are born right there at the farm and as stated in much more humane conditions than those animals raised in  the farms of most developed countries. So without having to stop the sale of turtle to the people of  this Island, please work with us to help us to be  as humanely as possible while improving conditions to a point where one day we'll all be most happy for our efforts while working together.  ESPECIALLY THE TURTLES!   

    • Anonymous says:

      culture is no excuse for inhumane treatment of animals…….

      thats a pretty sad excuse for 'culture' if you ask me…..

      • Anonymous says:

        – 08:04.Animals were created for the benefit of man ,and not the other way around

      • Just Commentin' says:

        Ever visit a commercial chicken farm? The turtle at the farm here are living in the lap of luxury by comparison.  It starts with the baby chicks having their beaks cut off. Then placed in spaces where they barely have room to breathe. Most feed lots for cattle are barely more tolerable.  The Cayman Islands has only one small turtle farm, the USA and UK have countless chicken and cattle farms. Do the math and tell me about gross and widespread animal cruelty and who has a sad culture, Bobo. Damn sad, eh? 

        I suggest that if Cruze and Marydele Donnelly leave us the hell alone and if they are true champions of anti-animal cruelty they focus on the Animal Auschwitz's in their own country.  Truth is that chicken-lovers will tell 'em the same thing I would: "Shut the cuff up! Leave me the hell alone!" They don't wanna give up their KFC anymore than turtle lovers want to give up their fave delicacy.

        So…where ya from? No chicken farms in ya homeland?

      • professor Hawks-Bill says:

        l suggest nature boy D'Cruse go back to great Britain and do something about the atrocities happening on the farms there which the british branch of the SPCA documented on video they titled Cruel Britania. Go see it on YouTube.   IT'S FREE !

    • Anonymous says:

      You are one sad puppy, don't you know that Great Britain is your mother country and that you ARE British. Have some respect and people may listen to your point of view!

      The Turtles are kept in appalling conditions and for anyone that does not think so must be idiots.

      The Turtle farm is losing millions that is costing everyone on the Island precious dollars that could be well spent else ware. Think with your brain and not your gut.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. The Turtle Farm is not losing $10MIL a year, Botswain Beach is, Cayman's version of Sea World. That needs to be shut down.

        2. Is there anywhere else in the world breeding green sea turtles? Nope. So lets close down the only place doing so? Great idea.

        3. Could it be said that without Cayman's Turtle Farm there would be no wild green sea turtles in the Caribbean? Yep. So again, why close it down?

        4. Ask the Turtles want they want done about the place. When you get their answers, act.

      • Inspector Clouseau says:

        No, I think you and the rest of the stooges who wants this farm closed down should leave this topic alone. WSPA CANT CHANGE ANYTHING HERE. BRITIAN CANT CLOSE DOWN THAT FARM EITHER. 

        the battle has already been won and clearly it's not the WSPA stooges. Turtle meat is here to stay. 

        Tell WSPA take care of the Zoo's in the UK before leaving home. Wanna leave home and clean elsewhere, start at home first. 


      • Dr. Do -Little -Too -Late says:

        Hey 8:15, Please do us a favor, go to "YOUTUBE" and check out this video which is entitled: CRUEL BRITANIA and see the inhumanity and cruelty done to those animals YOU eat.

        Oh, and please refrain from calling people idiots because you don't agree with them. That makes YOU an ILL-MANNERED PERSON.

    • Dr. Do - Little - Too -Late says:

      Boy OH BOY! You thumb downers must really be ticked off that the 00:13 comment got 45 thumbs up. So I suggest,  you get all your friends and buddies together and have them all donate a few thumbs down! Of course it's not gonna change anything, but maybe just maybe it'll boost your spirit a little, making you feel a little better. Of course it won't change anything, we'll just continue enjoying our turtle with all of it's healthy "omega fatty acids, 3, 6, 9 etc.etc.

      So as a peace offering to all thumb downers, I give you our theme song which is sung in the tune of the old American cowboy song "OH GIVE ME A HOME WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM" after all the turtle is known as the buffalo of the sea. So let's all sing along!.


      Oh give me a home 

      Where the meat has no bone

      And it's loaded with omega fat

      My friend it's no lie 

      Just give it a try

      And you'll find it's the best

      And that's, THAT


      Home, home at The Farm

      Where we raise them like pets

      without harm

      You can say what you might

      But don't start a fight  

      Cause then, you'll set off  the alarm


  23. JohnDoe says:

    Leave our turtle meat alone!