Rare turtle returned to sea after escaping dining table in Vietnam

By Duc Hung   December 14, 2016 | 10:30 am GMT+7
Rare turtle returned to sea after escaping dining table in Vietnam
The hawksbill sea turtle released to the ocean in central Vietnam on Tuesday. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Son

The restaurant owner spotted its rare color just before he was about to butcher the animal.

A critically endangered sea turtle almost ended up on a drinking table in central Vietnam had it not been for a vigilant restaurant owner who noticed that it looked rare and informed authorities.

Nguyen Van Phuong, the restaurant owner, and local officials sailed out to sea from Ha Tinh Province on Tuesday to release the hawksbill sea turtle back into the ocean.

Phuong said a local fisherman had sold him the seven-kilo turtle the previous day for VND1.5 million ($67). He was preparing to butcher it to serve his customers when he noticed it was a strange color and informed forest rangers.

Last month, fishermen from the nearby Quang Nam Province also released a hawksbill sea turtle back into the sea after finding it trapped offshore in a discarded fishing net.

The World Conservation Union classifies the hawksbill as critically endangered. Fishing has reduced the population of the species and driven it to the brink of extinction.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species outlaws the capture and trade of hawksbill sea turtles and products derived from them.

Sea turtles in general have become a primary conservation target as it’s estimated that only one in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.

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