Following the controversial release of freshwater turtles into the sea at a Tsuen Wan beach on Aug. 28, a video has surfaced of the suspects behind the Taoist religious ritual.
A woman surnamed Lai has provided footage that shows a group of four people releasing a bunch of fresh water turtles into the sea at Angler’s Beach in Sham Tseng, Apple Daily reports.
Lai claimed that she saw the group, which was made up of three women and a man, carry suitcases and plastic bags loaded with turtles at a pier near the beach at noon last Sunday.
The four dumped the turtles into the sea and dashed off, according to Lai.
She said she then informed the police, who in turn asked her to alert the the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
The two-minute-long video clip captured on Lai’s mobile phone shows the four people throwing the freshwater red-eared turtles into the sea despite warnings by some onlookers.
The AFCD said that it is looking into the matter and that it will consider prosecution if it is determined that it was a case of animal cruelty.
The red-eared turtles are freshwater, not saltwater, creatures. Putting them into the ocean and exposing them to sea salt could kill the animals.
Staff from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said last weekend that they managed to save some 245 freshwater turtles. But most of the turtles had already suffered injuries by the time the rescuers picked them up.
Of the saved turtles, about 70 have been adopted by various citizens.
An SPCA inspector surnamed Kwong said birds have been the common animals used for ritualistic releasing activities in Hong Kong in the past.
But in recent years, there has been a greater variety of animals being used for such religious purposes, hk01.com quoted him as saying.
Octopus, softshell turtles, grasshoppers and even hairy crabs are said to have been used in the rituals, given the belief among Taoists that freeing caged animals into the wild will bring good karma.
Nearly 250 freshwater turtles saved at Tseun Wan beach (Aug. 29, 2016)
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