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Sanctuary plea after turtle’s death

After witnessing a jet ski apparently run over a turtle and leave it for dead, a Somerset area resident is joining a call for increased protection for the local sea turtle population.

Grace Markham's plea for greater protection for the sea animals has been supported by the beach manager of Cambridge Beaches Resort, in Sandys, who has seen a number of dead turtles washed ashore in the area.

From the porch of her cabana at 9 Beaches, in Sandys, Ms Markham spent Monday evening enjoying the sunset as she drank a cup of tea.

But the idyllic scene was spoiled by the sound of a roaring jet ski, followed by the sight of a lifeless turtle floating in its wake.

“I'm still furious. I'm angry at the moron and upset for the turtle. That's such a disgusting way to die,” said Ms Markham, who rents one of the cabanas.

She said she was sure the turtle was dead after watching it “float lifelessly on the surface for more than an hour”.

“I wanted to go get it, but there was too much activity with jet skis and boats and it was getting dark, so it wasn't safe to retrieve.”

With a mixture of anger and sadness Ms Markham watched the turtle drift out to sea in the fading light of the evening.

Luke Fountain, beach manager at the nearby Cambridge Beaches Resort, said: “I find dead turtles on that beach all the time.”

In the past three years he has found eight dead turtles washed up. Some show signs of having been struck by jet skis, others appear to have starved after ingesting plastic.

“And those are just the ones that wash up on this beach, most of them float out to sea or wash up somewhere else,” he added.

Fed up with boats speeding along and anchoring in the waters around Cambridge Beaches, Mr Fountain is calling for the area to be turned into a turtle sanctuary, with an enforced five knot no-wake zone and ban on dropping anchors in areas where there is abundant sea grass, which green turtles thrive off.

“There are at least 50 turtles in the area at one time. I watch them popping their heads up, and then a jet ski comes through at 80 miles an hour.

“It happens all the time. And although we've got a nice population of green turtles, in the rest of the world they're endangered. They come and survive in our waters because we protect them and don't eat them.”

Ms Markham said she agreed “100 percent” with the idea of a turtle sanctuary area.

“Before, I wouldn't have been too concerned,” she said.

“But I am after yesterday when I watched some guy kill an animal while showing off for two girls on his jet ski. There are too many turtles around to carry on like that.”

Concern: Somerset resident Grace Markham has joined calls for more protection for green turtles after witnessing the death of a turtle near 9 Beaches.

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Published May 28, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated May 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm)

Sanctuary plea after turtle’s death

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