A man from New Zealand has been making it a habit to buy sea turtles at a food market and give them an escort back into the sea.
Aaron Culling is a man on a mission and that mission is saving sea turtles. When he spotted a pair of the animals at a food bazaar in Papua New Guinea he threw down about $33, hoisted them into his truck, and gave them a first-class ride to freedom.
Culling has said that he and a friend by the name of Mark have bought and then released at least eight different turtles.
Director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Terry Norton said, “This person is a hero and saved these turtles lives. They would have been sold, killed and eaten otherwise.”
Norton said that the turtles seen in the pictures are likely juveniles that have already had experience navigating the open sea “so they should not have any issues finding their way to where they need to go.”
Dan Evans at the Sea Turtle Conservancy is nonetheless worried saying, “Unfortunately this might mean that they are recaptured if they go back to where they were originally caught.”
Saving the turtles once is fine, but is Culling creating another problem?
Moby Solangi, executive director at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies said, “Buying from the market is simply providing an incentive to catch more turtles. It does not discourage a person from catching a turtle, but actually encourages it. This guy better have a lot of money, as the word will spread that one can make money by selling the turtle to him. He has unwittingly created an additional market for the turtles.”
Be that as it may, Culling has the right idea and it resonates with many people, as almost all sea turtle species are listed as endangered. Humans aren’t just eating them, but poaching them for their skin, shells, and eggs as well.
Reaching out to conservation groups and government agencies is the correct procedure; getting involved is the best way.
Solangi agreed saying, “The guy has a good heart, but needs a viable strategy to help the turtles.”
All Photos via Facebook/Aaron Culling