A two-foot-long giant turtle was caught on Wednesday after it was spotted off Angler’s Beach in Sham Tseng.
Swimmers notified the lifeguards on duty who caught the turtle and turned it over to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), hk01.com reports.
The animal was a freshwater turtle that might have been released for religious purposes.
The turtle seemed agitated and aggressive, according to the lifeguards. They posted photos of the turtle on Facebook.
Tang Tsz-on, vice chairman of the lifeguards’ union, said the reptile is believed to be a flat black snapping turtle which is aggressive by nature. The lifeguards had to catch it from behind.
He said freshwater turtles cannot live in seawater for long and urged people not to indiscriminately release turtles as they could endanger themselves and others.
An SPCA spokesperson said they were notified about the turtle at around 2 p.m. on Wednesday by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
The turtle is being examined by veterinarians. No apparent injuries were found.
Veterinarian Dr. Vincent Tse said the turtle has a hawk-like beak which is sharp and dangerous and could bite and wound people.
Its head is long enough to reach back and bite its attackers, so it is necessary to catch it from behind, he said.
Tse said this species of turtle comes from North America and their habitats are rivers and muddy areas.
The high salt content in saltwater will dehydrate the turtle and cause it to die within one to two days.
Tse said turtles have become popular pets when small but they can grow up to 50 centimeters long.
It’s possible that the turtle will be destroyed as it takes up too much space at the SPCA and there might be no one interested in adopting it.
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