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>My POV: UBC’s Animal Testing of Sea Turtles

March 8, 2011

>So this news has been spreading all over the place lately, and I just wanted to get a few of my own thoughts out there. At first, I was outraged by this article. But then I soon realized that A) most of it was exaggerated or false, and B) There are more important matters at hand.


Once upon a time, at the University of British Columbia in Canada, there were a few scientists that received sixteen captive bred, green sea turtles from the Cayman Turtle Farm in the Cayman Islands. Two of them died. Seven are now at other facilities. Now they have seven. The facility where they were housed for the past 10 years is being demolished and they have no where else to go, so a decision was made to terminate them and harvest their tissues for research purposes, after all they are a research facility.

Here’s the thing: Animals bred in captivity can never be released into the wild because they pick up parasites and such that would devastate the wild sea turtle populations. With that said, these seven turtles will not be able to make a contribution to the growth of wild green sea turtle populations. Their only option for life is to be kept in a tank and poked at by scientists.

Of course, for any of us crazy sea turtle loving people it is tragically sad to see these turtles killed for scientific research, especially the invasive and disturbing methods used in UBC research labs. Sure, UBC has highly questionable and unethical methods of research with animals (vivisection, for example, absolutely disgusting, torturous and absurd); however, in the long run these turtles are not a big deal to the global green sea turtle populations.

What I cannot seem to understand is why these UBC turtles are so significant, when all the other thousands of sea turtles out in the wild are forgotten.

Over 4,000 turtles were affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico kill over 25,000 sea turtles every year. Floating plastic waste in the ocean harms and kills 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals every year. Between 2001 and 2008, the Florida East Coast pelagic longline fleet snared 4,839 loggerheads and 6,626 leatherbacks for a total of 11,465 animals. Turtles are illegally slaughtered and their eggs are stolen and sold on the black market. We constantly destroy their habitats for luxurious beachfront properties and for new gas and oil plants to be built.

Apparently the hundreds of thousands of turtles that die each year in the wild do not matter. We only care about these seven in captivity that will never swim in the open ocean. So I will please ask, won’t everyone stop wasting their time fussing over UBC’s green sea turtles and do something about the dwindling numbers of sea turtles left in the ocean? Please?
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