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Over 30 endangered sea turtles found with fatal stab wounds to the neck on Japanese beach

A harrowing case of animal cruelty has sparked large investigation after more than 30 sea turtles were discovered stabbed on the shoreline of a beach in the main island of Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. The sea creatures in question were found with grievous wounds to their necks on Thursday 14 July 2022, The Independent reported.

The endangered reptiles were found by locals after low tide on Kumejima beaches and were reportedly on the “edge of death,” as per Vice. Many appeared motionless on discovery and near fishing nets, others were bleeding and some had unfortunately died. Staff employed at the local Sea Turtle Museum were the first to attend to the animals.

Though the island’s police force has put forward and begun an investigation into a case of animal cruelty (with no confirmed conclusion drawn as of yet), a local fishing operator admitted to the stabbing of the sea turtles in Japan’s national daily, The Mainichi. The act was allegedly done to remove them from fishing nets that they were accidentally caught in.

“A lot of them were tangled up in fishing nets. I disentangled some of them and released them into the sea, but I couldn’t free heavy ones, so I stabbed them to get rid of them,” the fishing worker reportedly said.

There has been much conservation work enacted in Okinawa and Kagoshima to protect green sea turtles and their egg-laying (or nesting) habitats. And it’s been working. But according to Yuji Tabata, the president of Kumejima Fishery Cooperative Association, this increase in the reptiles’ population has been nothing but troubling to local fishermen. Speaking to Vice, he stated, “They get caught in people’s nets or can collide with boats and cause accidents.”

While they do cause an issue, stabbing them is of course not the way to go, Tabata clarified. In fact, according to the president, it’s unheard of.

“As a sea turtle community which has been transmitting the conservation of the marine environment and the importance of living creatures through sea turtle conservation activities since day [one], this situation is extremely painful and disappointing,” the Kumejima Sea Turtle Museum stated via its Facebook page. “We are so sorry for causing you all the trouble.”