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Purple Dragon Kids in Turtle Release

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Purple Dragon Kids in Turtle Release
02Jul 2019

What do Purple Dragons and Green Sea Turtles have in common? On Friday 12th of July a group of kids from Cayman Island’s Purple Dragon Martial Arts summer camp came to West Bay Public Beach to help Cayman Turtle Centre release one of its head-started turtles. These summer campers called the turtle “Purple Diamond.” The kids all gathered around to watch, as Purple Diamond was carefully lifted from the back of the Centre’s pickup truck, and taken out to the release site in a large container which had seawater in it.

Feel the shell - Friday turtle release Purple Dragon

Feel the shell - Friday turtle release Purple Dragon

Education Programmes Officer Shona McGill told the youngsters all about the Green Sea Turtle, and how releasing one that has grown to at least a year, helps it survive in the wild. Newly-hatched baby turtles face many dangers, because they are so small and vulnerable, but older turtles that have already been safely raised in captivity for the first year of their life and much more likely to survive. “At this size, the only thing that can hurt this turtle is a really big shark, so sharks are not too much of a danger. But there is something that can still be very dangerous to a turtle in the wild. Can anyone guess what it is?” Ms. McGill asked. One of the youngsters put up his hand and answered; ‘Pollution.” 

“That is exactly right,” answered Ms. McGill. “The main kind of pollution is caused by plastic.” 

“Who here likes candy?” Ms. McGill asked the kids, and nearly every hand went up. “Well, to a turtle, a jellyfish is just like candy. When turtles see a plastic bag floating in the sea, it looks like a jellyfish to them, and they eat it, but then it will make them really sick.” 

Just before a Cayman Turtle Centre staff member brought the turtle to the water’s edge, and it began its new life in the sea, every child was allowed to touch its shell (as long as they sanitized their hands first, to make sure they didn’t pass on any germs). Then it was time. 

Slowly, Purple Diamond made its way down to the sea, and was soon it was covered by the waves. 

One day, Ms. McGill said, if it turns out to be a female turtle, it might find its way back to this very same beach to lay her eggs. “You are all playing an important part in turtle conservation,” she said. 

Then, Ms. McGill gave all the kids the opportunity to become a Turtle Ranger. Turtle Rangers are very important people in turtle conservation, because they take a pledge to protect turtles by picking up at least three pieces of plastic each day.

All the kids said the “Pledge” and promised to pick up three pieces of plastic a day. And lots of them had got the message already and started picking up plastics, before they were ready to go back home. Each Turtle Ranger received a special Turtle Ranger card. 

One of the Kids, Maie, said, “I like that people are caring about the turtles,” and Sherika, one of the Purple Dragon supervisors who had come along with the children said, “What I liked about it best was that it was interactive with the kids and they all got a chance to touch the turtle before it was released into the wild.” 

Send off - Friday turtle release Purple Dragon

Send off - Friday turtle release Purple Dragon

Every Friday this summer, Cayman Turtle Centre is releasing a head-started turtle into the sea. This opportunity is available for summer camps that request to participate in a turtle release. For more information please email info@turtle.ky.