In June last year, Haenyeo Kim Young-ja, who was온라인카지노 catching sea urchins in the water about 1 meter deep in Woljeong-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, discovered a sea turtle lying face down on a rock in the sea. When she saw Kim, the sea turtle lifted one of its front legs and waved it, she said. “In the 50 years she’s been working, she’s seen sea turtles in deep water twice, but this is the first time she’s seen them this close to land,” she said.
Jeju people regarded sea turtles as ‘the Dragon King’s envoy’ or ‘the Dragon King’s daughter.’ When sea turtles came to land with injuries, the female divers did their best to feed them makgeolli and send them back. Jeju sea is the home of sea turtles, but Jeju people do not know much about them. Unlike southern bottlenose dolphins that swim vigorously on the surface of the water, sea turtles that live in the water are rarely seen. Once sea turtles hatch and go out to sea, they rarely come back to land. Females come up briefly during the spawning season, but males live their entire lives in the sea and then die.
There are seven species of sea turtles, all of which are internationally endangered. Among these, there are five species of sea turtles found in Korea, including green sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, and hawksbill sea turtles. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is releasing sea turtles that were successfully artificially propagated in Jeju to restore the sea turtle population and conserve the species. It was confirmed that a 3-year-old young green sea turtle released with a location tracker ( GPS ) at Jungmun Saekdal Beach in September 2020 arrived in the waters east of Vietnam, 3,847 km away, in January of the following year.
The problem is that the number of sea turtle deaths in Jeju seas has been increasing in recent years. On the 4th, a dead adult loggerhead sea turtle was discovered at Hwanguchi Beach, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si. Just the day before, a hawksbill sea turtle caught in a net at nearby Unjin Port in Daejeong-eup was rescued by the Coast Guard. Last June, the body of a young green sea turtle was discovered on the coast near Hwanguchi Beach.
As many as 23 sea turtles have stranded (died) off the coast of Jeju this year. It was calculated that more than 60 animals died between 2021 and 2022. Professor Kim Byeong-yeop, head of the Whale and Marine Life Conservation Research Center at Jeju National University, said, “If you do an autopsy, you will find that they have eaten marine debris. In the case of whales, they can distinguish objects based on frequency, but turtles do not have this ability, so they mistake things like plastic for jellyfish or seaweed and eat them.” “You can,” he said.
Sea turtles laying eggs on Jeju beaches have not been confirmed recently. In Jeju, spawning was observed four times until 2007, including the sight of about 10 loggerhead turtle hatchlings hatching at Jungmun Saekdal Beach in October 1998 and heading out to sea, but they have not been found since. Environmental groups believe that the damage to the sandy coast, an increase in tourists, and artificial lighting on the coast are the causes.
Environmental groups emphasize that since sea turtles are an environmental indicator species that informs us of the status of both the sea and land ecosystems, we must take active steps to protect sea turtles, which are in danger due to the destruction of the marine ecosystem, pollution, and increased waste. Su-nam Yang, Secretary General of Jeju Friends of Nature, said, “More and more sea turtles are dying from being caught in abandoned nets or being hit by fishing boats. “We need to analyze the cause of the stranding and prepare countermeasures,” he pointed out.