Okinawa Prefectural Police launched an animal cruelty investigation following the discovery of over 30 stabbed sea turtles on a beach in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.
Employees of the Sea Turtle Museum of Kumejima rushed to the beaches of Kumejima island after residents reported dozens of green sea turtles found with stab wounds to their necks and flippers on July 14.
Several of the turtles were reportedly found unmoving and bleeding upon the employees’ arrival.
“Many of the turtles appeared dead. I have never seen anything like this before,” one of the workers told the Asahi Shimbun. “It is extremely difficult to process this.”
The Okinawa Prefectural Police and the Kumejima Municipal Government are currently investigating the incident.
The turtles were believed to have been stabbed by fishers after getting tangled 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,” one fishery operator reportedly admitted, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.
Green sea turtles are considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Japanese Environment Ministry. They are often found in the seaweed and kelp beds off Kumejima island, where conservation efforts have been ongoing.
Featured Image via Jessica Wong