31/03/2010

Open Letter to Greek Fishermanʼs

March 2010

I have been working for Archelon over the last 10 years on 3 different continents protecting sea turtles. I have experienced many things that I never would have thought could be possible.

A sea turtleʼs life is amazing, The newborn hatchlings emerge from the sand and run towards the sea worrying for their lives, the mother turtles cross thousands of miles in order to lay their eggs in a nest in the same beach where they were born, continuing the chain of life.

There are of course natural threats, at land and in the sea, natural predators that get their share, but that is natural. However predation at the hands of man surpass all natural ways, human threats are more sinister and evil. Accidental entanglement in nets and collisions with speedboats are two of the most frequent threats that come to mind. These are issues that sea turtle protection services are working to rectify and minimise.

However, I say again, I have experienced things that I never would have thought could be possible. Some fishermen do their best to help the turtles. They patrol the beaches protecting the eggs from poachers; they rescue injured sea turtles by transporting them on their boat and have changed their equipment to provide a safer, turtle friendly way of fishing.

But what I witnessed should never have happened...

Nikolas, a male Caretta caretta came to Archelon sea turtle rescue centre from Mykonos, a few days ago. He had severe injuries to his head which had been caused by wicked hand. Unfortunately it seems that this is the destiny of many sea turtles that swim in Greek seas. Archelon representatives are working hard to change occurrences like this and to prevent them from happening by educating the public and making them aware of the problems that exist. The results are slow, but encouraging.

However, in Nikolasʼ case, the perpetrator didnʼt stop there. After crushing the poor animals skull, he continued to torture him by stabbing not one, but two long nails through his head causing irrevocable brain damage and excruciating pain.

This kind of behaviour makes me sick, it makes me feel ashamed for mankind. How is it possible for a human being to treat a harmless creature with such cruelty?

We have many fishermen in my family, they raised me and taught me to show respect for nature and her creatures. I know well that most of the Greek fishermen are good, responsible people. I have been in contact with many of them who have helped the rescue of many sea turtles and will call to ask about ʽtheir turtleʼ and I always inform them whenever it is about to be released. There are however people out there who destroy our reputation by taking their anger out on defenceless sea turtles.

Severe and strict measures must be taken in order to avoid anything like this from reoccurring. This person must be found and dealt with accordingly and should be arrested and judged for his wrongdoings. I truly believe that setting an example like this, will end this despicable behaviour from ever happening again.

Unfortunately, Nikolas has no options and no treatment that can save him. He has to be put down in order to end his torturing.

All of you can help put an end to this kind of behaviour; I speak to not only one, but all of you, I never want to see this happening again.

Pavlos Tsaros Archelonʼs rescue network coordinator.

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