Date
16 December 2017
The summer next year may be a peak period for green turtles to lay eggs in Sham Wan but the chances of that happening are dim due to serious pollution. Photo: Reuters/Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons
The summer next year may be a peak period for green turtles to lay eggs in Sham Wan but the chances of that happening are dim due to serious pollution. Photo: Reuters/Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons

Marine garbage likely to keep green turtles from returning to HK

Environmentalists are calling on the government to tackle marine garbage so that Hong Kong can once again see green turtles, an endangered and protected species.

Sham Wan off Lamma Island is considered the main breeding ground for green turtles in Hong Kong, Apple Daily reports.

But the last time they were spotted laying eggs in Sham Wan was already five years ago, although the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department observed them on a beach on Lantau Island in 2016.

Robert Lockyer, an environmentalist living on Lamma Island, said he does not expect to see green turtles in Sham Wan this year. 

The reason is that Hong Kong waters have been polluted by garbage such as the palm oil spill from a vessel collision near the Pearl River estuary on Aug. 3. Their breeding season begins in June and ends in October.

Two green turtles were found dead in October last year and in April this year, Lockyer said.

The deaths were caused by marine waste. Plastic bags and nylon ropes were found inside a dead green turtle in Pak Lap Wan, Sai Kung in 2015.

The summer from June to October next year may be a peak period for green turtles to lay eggs in Sham Wan but the chances of that happening are dim due to serious pollution.

Also, their habitat is often disturbed by people holding parties on yachts and speed boats in the summer during recent years, Lockyer said.

Stanley Chan, a conservation manager of the Eco-Education and Resources Centre, said the government’s move to ban access to beaches in Sham Wan only is “useless”.

He said the long-term solution is to improve the quality of sea water so that green turtles can return.

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