Cayman free diver wants to see free turtles
(CNS): Local free diving star Tanya Streeter has joined the campaign to end the farming of endangered sea turtles in Cayman and was with representatives from the World Society for the Protection of Animals when they handed in a petition with 144,000 signatures to the Cayman government this week. The free dive world champion and world record holder has also spoken out against the Cayman Turtle Farm, which is currently housing around 7,000 endangered sea turtles in cramped, unhealthy and diseased conditions. The WSPA was visiting Cayman to pick up a report commissioned by the CTF following the charity's own findings about the problems at the attraction and to talk with management and government about changing the facility from a farm to a real conservation facility.
Although that goal continues to find little support among officials in Cayman, the campaigners have at least made the CTF management address some of the major animal welfare issues at the facility. As well as finally admitting that disease and health problems exist among the captive population, the CTF has begun the process of recruiting a vet.
The WSPA is not only pressing for better welfare conditions but to transition the facility into a fully-fledged conservation centre. However, as the ultimate goal of the Cayman Turtle Farm is to produce meat as a means of discouraging people from poaching turtles from the wild, the charity is up against significant opposition.
During a year-long undercover investigation the WSPA brought to light the extent of the problems at the CTF, from turtles with damaged flippers and missing eyes to cannibalism in the the overcrowded, dirty tanks in which the turtles are held captive. As a result the turtles are distressed, diseased and damaged.
Streeter, a Women’s Diving Hall of Fame free-diver, who handed the petition to the CTF and government on Tuesday 29 January, said turtles should not be kept in the overcrowded, dirty, concrete tanks at the Cayman Turtle Farm.
“I grew up on the island and it was my home for a long time,” she said “Free-diving in the waters off the Cayman Islands is a beautiful experience. It is also one of the few places you can get up close and personal with the magnificent endangered green sea turtle. I’m supporting the World Society for Protection of Animals as turtles are solitary animals, and are most at home when they are swimming free in the ocean,” Streeter added.
See Streeter talk about the conditions at the CTF here
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