Trinidad: Rescued turtle returned to sea, four men charged

Officers carry the green turtle to the ocean.

(Trinidad Guardian) Less than an hour af­ter four men ap­peared in court on Tues­day charged with pos­ses­sion of a pro­tect­ed green tur­tle, the an­i­mal was re­leased back in­to the sea.

Gre­go­ry David, 56, a su­per­vi­sor, Owen Vial­va, 47, a fish­er­man, Phillip Pha­goo, 26, a con­struc­tion work­er and Michael Joseph, 38, labour­er of Ce­dros were each grant­ed $50,000 bail with clerk of the peace ap­proval.

They ap­peared be­fore Point Fortin First Court Se­nior Mag­is­trate Ra­jen­dra Ram­bachan who al­so fixed a cash bail for each of them in the sum of $15,000.

The men were ar­rest­ed around 10.30 am on Mon­day af­ter Cus­toms of­fi­cers un­der the di­rec­tive of Cus­toms of­fi­cer 11 Kirk Pe­ters stopped a Nis­san Navara at Ce­dros.

It is al­leged that the tur­tle was found in a cro­cus bag in the van. The four oc­cu­pants were ar­rest­ed and sub­se­quent­ly charged by se­nior game war­den Steve Seep­er­sad.

Ac­cord­ing to the charge, they are al­leged to have been in pos­ses­sion of the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly sen­si­tive species. The of­fence un­der the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Act car­ries a max­i­mum penal­ty $100,000 and two years im­pris­on­ment.

The one-and-half-year-old tur­tle was brought to the court in a cage.

At­tor­ney Kristoff Ram­bert re­quest­ed bail for all four ac­cused and pros­e­cu­tor Sgt Jesse Jit­man­sigh did not ob­ject. The mat­ter was ad­journed to March 11.

Game war­dens Steve Seep­er­sad, Andy Singh, Je­re­my Din­di­al, Visham Mad­hu, and Forestry Di­vi­sion dri­ver Hay­den Sim­mons took the an­i­mal to the coast­line near the Ce­dros jet­ty where they re­leased it back in­to the ocean.

About the green tur­tle

The green tur­tle is one of the largest sea tur­tles and the on­ly her­bi­vore among the dif­fer­ent species. Green tur­tles are in fact named for the green­ish colour of their car­ti­lage and fat, not their shells.

In the East­ern Pa­cif­ic, a group of green tur­tles that have dark­er shells are called black tur­tles by the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ty. Green tur­tles are found main­ly in trop­i­cal and sub­trop­i­cal wa­ters.

Like oth­er sea tur­tles, they mi­grate long dis­tances be­tween feed­ing grounds and the beach­es from where they hatched. Clas­si­fied as en­dan­gered, green tur­tles are threat­ened by over-har­vest­ing of their eggs, hunt­ing of adults, be­ing caught in fish­ing gear and loss of nest­ing beach sites.

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