Police began investigating the case on Friday after sea turtles were found at low tide, according to a police official. The official said some of the turtles were bleeding and barely breathing, and had cuts around their necks from what appeared to be a slaughter attempt. He added that at the moment the turtle’s whereabouts are unknown and it is likely that they have been swept via from the tides. The official said police are continuing to investigate and question witnesses.
Yoshi Tsukakushi, spokesperson for the Kumejima Sea Turtle Museum, said thearea in where sea turtles were found is their natural habitat and is covered in algae that the turtles eat. He added that sea turtles can fight in nets mounted by local fishermen and could be considered a “nuisance” because they tear the nets.
“Some fishermen believe that the turtles eat all the algae before they grow, which prevents the fish from reproducing in the area,” Tsukakushi said.
All sea turtle species are considered in via of extinction and listed in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are protected in around the world, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, an international non-governmental organization. But it is increasingly threatened by factors such as coastal development, overfishing and bycatch, when turtles are caught unwittingly while hunting other species.