Seven Rehabilitated Sea Turtles Are Released On Yalong Bay, the Ritz-Carlton, Sanya Beach
The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya in partnership with Sea Turtles 911 has released seven (7) sea turtles back to their ocean home on Yalong Bay Beach. The event included a sea turtle biology and conservation presentation from Dr. Nicolas Pilcher, a sea turtle release ceremony and a donation to Sea Turtles Hospital. More than 200 Ritz-Carlton guests, friends and volunteers of Sea Turtles 911 came to the hotel beach on Friday January 7th to say good bye and good luck to these good friends, in support of worldwide sea turtle and marine conservation.
“I'm thrilled that we were able to raise RMB 14,018(USD 2, 061) as donation from the event.” Said Mr. Michel Goget, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya: says, saving one life earns more merit than building a pagoda of seven stories. It’s our honour to give these seven awe-inspiring creatures the second chance to survive, I believe this will definitely be a life-time memory for all event attendees , and The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya will continually support this meaningful event to enliven The Ritz-Carlton Community Footprint which focus on Hunger and Poverty Relief, Well-being of Children, and Environmental Conservation.”
Friends of sea turtles in collaboration with The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya, and Sea Turtles 911 included Dr. Nicolas Pilcher, a world-renowned sea turtle expert. Dr. Pilcher is the Co-Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Marine Turtle Specialist Group, the world’s authority on sea turtle conservation and biology. He has given hundreds of presentations around the world, including presentations to local Hainan government officials and universities. The event was also assisted by student volunteers from Hainan University and Hainan Normal University. The students were available to answer sea turtle questions posed by guests and assist the sea turtles awaiting release.
Fisherman friends of Sea Turtles 911 were also in attendance, including those who have helped rescue sick and injured sea turtles from poachers in the area. As Sea Turtles 911's Founding Director, Frederick C. Yeh, states, "For our release events, if we can bring multiple sectors in our community together, it will be very beneficial to sea turtle conservation in China. It is my hope that we can put other issues aside and agree on sea turtle rights, for the advancement of sea turtle conservation."
The seven (7) sea turtles that were released included an endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle and six (6) endangered Green sea turtle. Three of the Green sea turtles were juveniles and had spent one year of their baby hatchling life at The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya, which provided a home for them at Ritz-Kids. The other sea turtles had been rescued by fishermen and had spent time recuperating at the Sea Turtles 911 floating hospital due to injuries and illnesses.
Green sea turtles range through the tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are herbivorous and feed only on sea grasses, though as hatchlings they eat fish and other sea life and their diet changes as they grow to adulthood. The little juveniles that were released are currently only about 5 kg, the one adult released weighed approximately 70 kg, though adults can reach up to 200 kg. Green sea turtles are endangered primarily due to direct harvest from humans killing them for meat and the use of their shells, as well as accidental ingestion of the large amount of plastic and other garbage debris found floating in the oceans.
The Olive Ridley sea turtle that were released, Ossirian. was an adult female weighing in at 35 kg. Olive Ridley sea turtles live in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. They nest in arribadas every year, 2 times each season. Arribadas (meaning "arrival" in Spanish) are mass synchronized nestings when thousands of Olive Ridleys come ashore together to lay their eggs. They are endangered primarily due to direct harvest of the sea turtles and eggs at the arribadas.
The theme of event, Raise – Release – Return, highlights the past (raise: what has been accomplished), present (release: what was done this day), and future (return: what is hoped the sea turtles will do).
Raise: In 2009, The Ritz – Carlton, Sanya helped raise three baby sea turtle hatchlings rescued by Sea Turtles 911 from poachers to one year of age. This way upon release they are bigger and their shells are strong enough to help reduce predation by other animals; from birth, sea turtles have many predators but after 1 year of age, their only major predators are sharks and humans. Scientists estimate that 1 in 1000 baby sea turtles survive to adulthood. By raising them for a year, their overall survival chance is increased when released back into the wild.
Release: One year later, the hatchling sea turtles are ready to be released. Sea turtles are an endangered species and must be released back into their natural habitats to help maintain a sustainable population. This is why we gathered for this event, to celebrate their final release.
Return: After the young sea turtles grow into adulthood in their natural habitat, we hope they will return to Hainan one day and nest. Sea turtles demonstrate natal homing, in which female sea turtles return to the same beach they hatched from, or one very close by, to lay their eggs. We hope that the beaches here in Hainan can be kept as pristine and safe as possible for sea turtle nesting.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya’s partnership with Sea Turtles 911 started in December, 2009, when the hotel provided a home for three endangered Green sea turtle hatchlings from Sea Turtles 911, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles on the Hainan Island costal regions.
For the past year The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya together with Sea Turtles 911 has been actively working to promote and educate guests and locals about threats to sea turtles in the South China Sea, while increasing the sea turtles chance for survival. The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya staffs have made regular visits to the floating sea turtle hospital for the hotel’s Give Back Getaway Voluntourism Program. As well, guests are invited to join in a half day visit to the Sea Turtles 911 floating hospital where they will be given the chance to work side by side with the Sea Turtles 911 team in a number of volunteer activities, and learn more about sea turtle conservation.