'Sliced' sea turtle found dead on Singapore beach

Dead turtle on Changi beach, Singapore Image copyright Chandran V R
Image caption Turtles are not normally found in the beaches around Singapore

Singaporean animal lover Chandran V R witnessed a "very unsettling" sight at the start of his new year.

On the morning of 1 January, he discovered a dead and endangered sea turtle which looked like it had been "sliced into half", apparently by boat propellers.

The 46-year-old real estate managing director told BBC News that he found the carcass washed ashore on a remote part of Changi beach on the north-east of the island, near a ferry terminal.

"It was the start of the new year and I decided to go jogging along the coastal stretch which is generally quiet and sees very few people," he said.

Mr Chandran said an "overpowering smell" first caught his attention.

"I decided to take a closer look. One thing led to another and I found the dead turtle."

Image copyright Chandran V R

The creature was not moving but had a deep open gash across its body, though its head and flippers were intact.

"I was very alarmed and sad to see such a graceful and giant rare creature lying dead on our shores," said Mr Chandran.

"It had probably been struck by a ship in the waters."

He phoned the police and gave them information about the carcass as well as its location. Government officials later got in touch with Mr Chandran, saying the carcass was recovered.

Image copyright Chandran V R
Image caption The dead turtle's head and flippers remained in tact but a deep gash was seen on its shell

Mr Chandran, who has visited turtle sanctuaries before, said that he was "puzzled" as to why such a huge and rare animal was coming to Singapore shores.

"This was very tragic to see. I hope we as human beings can learn to live peacefully with nature and create awareness to avoid future tragedies, especially with endangered animals."

There was a similar public grief among Singaporeans on social media for the unfortunate animal, after the discovery was reported by the Straits Times.

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"Either our waters have too high ship traffic or there is something driving marine animals the wrong way, landwards rather than out to sea," wrote Ping Teo on Facebook. "Underwater mining also creates a lot of noise pollution for sea creatures trying to gauge direction."

Another Singaporean Vincent Teo pointed out the immense pain the animal must have suffered. "A turtle's shell is actually part of its rib cage. That must have hurt badly."

Christopher Sim described it as a terrible accident. "It reminds us just how much we must be careful not to trample on Mother Nature."

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Critically-endangered marine turtles face great threats from humans

Sea turtles are highly threatened and many species have been classified "endangered" or "critically endangered".

While conservation has helped boost population numbers, they still face grave threats from man such as becoming tangled in fishing nets. They are often killed for their shells, which are commonly used in tourist souvenirs and their eggs are also harvested and collected.

Sightings of them in Singapore, an island city-state, remain rare, according to the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) charity.

"Marine turtles are endangered and it saddens us every time we come across such a tragedy," said Deputy Chief Executive Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan.

"This particular turtle must have died a painful death and just goes to show that marine life is also being affected by presence of ships and boats."

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