Marine biologist discovers turtle, shark slaughter in Maldives’ UNESCO biosphere reserve

A marine biologist working in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has reported the discovery of the remains of a baby shark and endangered sea turtle barbecue on the uninhabited island of Funadhoo, one of the country’s 14 priority nesting beaches legally protected under Maldivian law.

Marine biologist with local environmental consultancy Seamarc, Sylvia Jagerroos, was participating in a beach clean up on August 24 with local people when the group came across the scene.

“We had removed fishing lines, nets, and other marine debris and of course all the garbage from the beach. This consisted mainly of plastic bottles, and that day we found many red bull cans,” she said.

The group then discovered the slaughtered remains of a large, one metre adult nesting green turtle and 2-3 newborn lemon sharks, “still smoking on the barbecue”, surrounded by smashed eggshells.

“We found where the killing took place, there was a lot of blood in the sand, and maybe what was the trace of the turtle crawling to try and nest. I don´t know if she was killed before or after the nesting. I didn’t find any nest, so if there was one then probably all the eggs were eaten already,” Jagerroos said.

“I went snorkeling and found the remains of the turtle in the nearby waters, including the head. Some bones and flippers, were discarded a couple of meters from the barbecue. I also found the remains of baby lemon sharks on the barbecue. The lemon sharks was a newborn sized only around 50-60 cm, the meat had been removed and eaten. My theory is that they saw the green turtle nesting and killed her immediately, while slaughtering and throwing in the pieces in the ocean. The baby sharks were attracted to the smell and since they swim in very shallow waters it’s a piece of cake to catch them.”

Jagerroos noted that the Maldives had proclaimed itself the world’s second shark sanctuary in March 2009.

“For a marine biologist to find a juvenile sickle fin lemon shark on the grill when this creature is listed as “Vulnerable on the red list” with the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and is already extinct in many nearby countries, hurts,” she said.

The catching and consumption of turtles is banned across the Maldives, and turtles – together with many other species – are especially protected in the biosphere reserve.

However turtle eggs are considered a local delicacy and can fetch up to MVR 10 each – a single nest can contain between 100-200. The practice is generally not illegal, but is prohibited on the country’s nesting islands.

Marine biologists working on resorts in the atoll have also privately complained of boatloads of local poachers sneaking onto the islands at night without lights or noisy engines, after hearing of the discovery of a nest of eggs. In some instances, resorts have been forced to post security guards to protect the nests from poachers.

Baa Atoll was in June 2011 added to the UN body’s global list of biosphere reserves after five years of lobbying by the government, placing it in the company of world famous sites such as the Komodo in Indonesia, Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in Australia and the Galapagos Islands.

The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve was officially launched alongside with Baa Atoll Conservation Fund by President Mohamed Waheed in July 2012 at a ceremony in the atoll’s capital of Eydhafushi. At the ceremony, the UNDP presented a cheque for US$250,000 as a contribution to the fund, on behalf of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Jagerroos said the team had called the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) ranger at Hanifaaru Bay – a world famous habitat for mantas and whale sharks – “and he said they’d look into it. But they’d have to patrol the whole area – it’s too big,” she acknowledged.

Director General of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Ibrahim Naeem said he was not aware of the incident or that it had been reported to the Hanifaaru Bay ranger, and referred Minivan News to the Ministry of Fisheries which he said was responsible for sharks and turtles.

“It is not allowed to catch and eat turtles. There is no such ban for eggs. Even in the biosphere there are actions that are allowed,” Naeem said.

Minivan News is seeking comment from the Ministry of Fisheries.


24 thoughts on “Marine biologist discovers turtle, shark slaughter in Maldives’ UNESCO biosphere reserve”

  1. why only turtles? why not chickens? They are too slaughtered, in millions every day... and these turtles were living in freedom and in natural beauty.. but consider the caged hens they raise in factories. they live their whole life caged in a box less than a feet only to be slaughtered when fat enough. where is the outrage about that?

  2. this biosphere '***t' is another way for UNESCO andUN sexpats to have free holidays in exotic places.. let's stoop the killing and abuse of human beings first....

  3. Because, Moosa, you simpleton, there are literally billions of captive chickens in the world that play no role in any wild ecosystem while there are very few sea turtles of any species left and all play a vital role in the health of the oceans. Why is this so hard to grasp? Every time someone tries to point out that our ocean diversity is in peril some lackwit such as yourself goes on about the poor billions of chickens!

  4. Under islam, all animals except those few exceptions like pigs are supposed to be there for the consumption of the muslims by god. So who can stop them from eating gifts from god? Conservation of life is not a concept in islam since humans are required to work for the afterlife, and animals are just there to be hunted.

  5. I think the sharks of the Maldives are so friendly because they've always had enough food and aren't really targeted by the majority of fishermen.

    The laws help but the problem with environmental laws though is that there is no one to enforce them. Most of the fishermen in Baa atoll have really sustainable practices but aren't paid the price/kg for Reef fish that they deserve. Resorts buy fish for nothing and sell them as gourmet dishes at a huge profit. This means as prices rise, fishermen are constantly on the grind and trying to catch more and more.

    It'd also make it hard for someone who's trying to make a living to care about the rights of sharks and turtles. I'm not saying this incident is the result of the local fishermen, it could have been anybody, but that the situation is way more complicated than simply making a reserve and calling it a biosphere.

    At the prices reef fish is sold on these resorts, the fishermen who catch them deserve to make enough to live a good, prosperous life. The resort owners response to many of their concerns have been "we'll just import fish for cheaper then".

    Moosa: There is a massive outrage about that, it's called the push for free range farming. Besides that these turtles are part of a natural ecosystem and can't really be compared to a domesticated animal that has been raised for human consumption.

  6. @Wives and Concubines

    You have a fetish for Islam. Do you get an erection when you say Islam?

  7. @Wives and Concubines
    You idiots, yes god have given us resources and god has asked us to use them wisely and rightfully. Guess you have not read that part. Every animal on this earth is created by god and we don’t have the right to drive them to extinction.

  8. Wives and concubines, only with your name I have an idea of the kind of asshole you are. DOn't use religion. You are just a very poor example of the human race. Thanks god no much people like you or the future generations will damm us for letting Earth become a massive dessert.... I feel sorry for you, obviously is your lack of education that makes you talk like that.

  9. Who says we dont have the right to drive them into extinction. I feel more concerned about the fast approaching human extinction rather than the extinction of animals and insects. I sure would hate to have Dinosaurs roaming around the globe in this 21st century.
    We as humans shall at least try to dominate the food chain ... after all its OUR wildlife not there's.
    Eat the bloody turtles perhaps we will save a few jelly fish in turn. Its time Mankind "learn something from the animals around them ...

  10. It is very saddening to read about this. I am even more distressed about the comments.
    Can the Maldives really afford to neglect protection of nature and animals? Of course, they can, if they want to damage not only tourism but also livelihood of further generations. I do hope that these ignorant idiots will be caught and prosecuted. I expect that my comment maybe considered a minor problem of rich western countries. But we have only one planet to live on. Destroying nature will destroy mankind in the end.

  11. Every species in the food chain are inter connected. Exterminating one species would disrupt the whole chain, including us as humans.
    In your case Rationale, I would not mind actually. Persons like you are needed in this world.
    Anyway, these animals are protected by national law and that is for a good reason.
    We don't owe any animals or their environment, we are part of it.
    Let's try to be smart about this and conserve our environment as much as we can.

  12. So what if we destroy ourselves? Let's eat ourselves to death. Enjoy.

    The Earth will be here long after we die out.

  13. Rationale, are you on crack? What do you mean you have the "right" to drive turtles toward extinction? What kind of right is that? You claim to be concerned about the upcoming human extinction? If so then why are you advocating for the collapse of global food chains, are you really that insane? Do you not understand that all life is interconnected? if the Oceans die then so do we and if certain animals such as various jellyfish species are left unchecked then the oceans will inevitably die!

    You and Moosa are a match made in heaven. You represent everything that is wrong with wannabe conservationists and self proclaimed animal rights champions that ignore science and embrace sentimentalism. You are the type to cheer for mass extinction while feeling smug about your proclaimed eating habits, which you probably don't even follow! You are going to be the ones that will take the fall for the global ecological collapse when it happens! Enjoy this moment while you can!

  14. m not signing in with any one, just my opinion..i dont think the fisheries ministry can reply to this. Better they dont cz if they want to talk fact, then silence will b gold.. their information on extinction,protection will not allow a decent speech.

    But i will say this. compared to the rest of the world,v truly have a gift of nature. a unique experience.but our means of protection and environmental awareness is inadequate to support extinction of many creatures. Like the culture that we have already lost. we need to make the people more aware on these life forms. but lets not oversee things

  15. @Will.
    When the europeans killed dojo to extinction they did not get criticized. i know its a long time ago but i still think its because of our colour that we do not have the right to enjoy a few turtles now and then.

  16. Has anybody ever felt the PAAINN of being a turtle, one of Allah subhaanu hoo wata'allahs most BEAUTIFUL creatures.

    I HAVE felt the PAIN of a turtle simply for being a TURTLE and it is so contrary to the spirit of our religion which teaches Rahman (mercy) and forgiveness. WHy, oh why should indulge in cruelty when we can be kind? Callous indifference to nature does not make us strong it makes us weak. Compassion and the will to conserve our resources gives us strength, and from this mighty fountain of strength must we drink. Be like the turtle that uses its compassion to make beautiful eggs.

    Immanuel Kant teaches us that we have a moral imperative towards all living beings. THAT INCLUDES TURTLES. PLEASE STOP HURTING THEM.

  17. The Ben Plewright above is not me, but, I LOVE IT!

    @Ben Plewright... awesome!

    MINIVAN did the commentor use my email address when releasing this comment, because, I have made it public on MANY occassions so you guys would not know whether it is really me or not!

    But I don't care THIS IS CLASSIC!

    I need to see myself parodied like this more often it is SOOO frickin embarrassing but so frickin HILARIOUS!

    I am at the library right now, and, I am laughing so hard that I think I am about to be booted out, BUT I can't help it!!!

  18. Lailaa, back then the concept of extinction did not even really exist and I still don't think that is an excuse for what Europeans did to the dodo. So no, they did not get criticized then but they do get criticized now by just about everywhere. Europe and the United States also gets criticized (by me for one) for the exterminations that they have and continue to participate in so, no, you are not being criticized because of your colour. Try again.

    "Enjoy a few turtles now and then"? Wake up! you have a chance to not repeat the same mistakes that others have made throughout history. This area was meant to be a sanctuary! Not a place where people, of any perceived "race", could just "enjoy a few turtles now and then"! Soon it will be a few turtles and a few eggs and then everyone will wonder where the turtles went. This is a chance to preserve things for a change instead of thinking with your stomach. How do you think your children's children will feel when they have learned that you have wiped out many species and that your excuse was that "whitey did it too"?

  19. In response to Rationale and the like:

    I think this talk about having the right to kill something is disgusting. You don't seem to have the capacity to understand that everything on our planet is interlinked. Human mass extinction will come due to a variety of human activities including unsustainable use of fisheries, including sharks which are APEX predators. This means that by removing such large animals from an ecosystem there will be a 'trophic cascade' effect on all other species below or above it in the food chain. This most definitely includes us. All issues we have concerning our own extinction are completely self created. We abuse our resources for financial gain and morons with a lack of education like yourself think it is wise to destroy habitats, decimate animal populations in both the marine and terrestrial world, and generally be massive fucking drains on our 'own' planet. I would also like to add that we are one of the more recent species who have evolved to inhabit this planet. Therefore we should RESPECT other species that have been on the planet for much longer, and preserve it for future generations rather than be selfish twats.

  20. If only those poor people who sell turtle eggs for a living would be paid to protect them instead! After all they seem good at knowing where the nests are. The human race by the way is not endangered to extinct but quite the opposite...

  21. What is wrong with Wives and Concubines, or all of these people who are against protection of the turtles, or any nature conservation project?
    Dont you even dare to bring religion into it, when you don't even understand the concept of all relgions' belief in kindness and compassion to animals, including Islam. Islam does not give us any right to hurt, or kill animals, especially if killing them means disrupting ecological balances in nature. Islam is about living in harmony with nature, and respecting it, not ravaging it.


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