Bali beach releases endangered Indonesian turtles back to ocean

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SANUR, Indonesia, Jan 20 (Reuters) - A batch of 40 turtle hatchlings waddled towards the sea in Indonesia on Thursday as part of a release on a beach on the country's most popular resort island of Bali.

The turtles, of the olive ridley and hawksbill species, were rescued from Bali beaches and a local conservation group has been urging volunteers to take part in their release, hoping to boost awareness of the need to protect endangered species.

"I participated because we can educate the public about why they should not kill these turtles," said Made Ayu Diah Permata at the island's Sanur beach.

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"I hope that the turtles can continue to live in the wild so our children and grandchildren can see them."

Volunteers prepare baby Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) that were rescued from predators by the local conservation community, to be released to the sea, in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia, January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Sultan Anshori

Indonesia has become a hub of international trafficking of marine turtles, feeding demand from countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

Authorities recently sent 33 endangered green sea turtles rescued during a raid on poachers back to the ocean.

"Only 1%-2% of the sea turtles can survive the cycle of birth long enough to lay eggs - the number is very small," said Agus Budi Santoso, head of the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Center, which organises the releases.

"The more we release, the better it will be for the species," he added. Hawksbill turtles are classified as critically endangered according to World Wildlife Fund, and olive ridley turtles classified as vulnerable.

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Writing by Angie Teo; Editing by Martin Petty and Alex Richardson

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