An Endangered Leatherback Turtle Struggles To Flee Taunting Locals
A group of local men were captured on camera riding and teasing an endangered leatherback turtle on a beach in Indonesia.
The turtle had just laid eggs on the beach and was trying to get home.
The video begins with a man sitting on the turtle and posing for what he believes to be a photo. As the turtle begins to move, the man is jolted from his pose. Nonetheless, he continues smiling and posing for a picture.
Laughing, another man comes from behind yielding a tree branch. He too poses for the camera.
Call it ignorance but the men not only seem unaware that the photo is indeed a video but are also unaware, or simply have no regard, of the harm they are inflicting upon the turtle.
Another man hops on her back and casually begins stuffing his mouth with what is either gum or tobacco. Shortly after, a man holding an infant joins him and sits on the edge of her back.
To make sure they all get a turn riding the turtle, one of the men trades places with the man holding the camera. All too eager, the man hops on with his feet dangling over her head. As this appears to be too much trouble for him, he eventually places his feet on the turtle’s head.
Just when one hoped the men would allow her to travel peacefully back to her home, the camera cuts and shows another man on the turtle’s back. Reminiscent of a child and a toy, another man follows behind pulling on her tail as she struggles to get away. The man then stands on her hind flippers as if to hitch a ride while she continues to struggle with the other man on her back.
Finally, the video nears an end but the men continue to ride the turtle. She speeds up as she approaches the water. It is as if she realizes she is nearing her home.
The leatherback turtle has been in existence for over 150 million years but has become an endangered species. Their population has declined from 10,000 nests in 1953 to just one or two per year since 2003.
The largest nesting leatherback turtle population, in Papua Barat, Indonesia, has declined over 78 percent.
The factors leading to such a steep decline are due to human interference. For example, many leatherbacks become entangled in fishing gear, pollution and debris often get mistaken for food, and some hunt them for their meat and skin (poaching).
Reproductive biologist, Thane Wibbels of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in 2013, “Sea turtles have been around about 100 million years and survived the extinction of the dinosaurs but are struggling to survive the impact of humans.”
Wibbels continued, “If the decline continues, leatherback turtles will become extinct in the Pacific Ocean within 20 years.”
Leatherbacks travel through territorial waters of at least 20 countries in a seven-month span. They know no boundaries. However, the danger of being captured is constant.
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