Missing Turtle

Larry

For more than a year there was a turtle living at Fish Eye Marine Park. He ate the food that they threw in the water for the fish, and visited with the tourists. Some people called him “Larry,” and other people called him “Crush.”

I don’t know what he called himself.

However, he had a small metal tag under each front flipper. One said NOAA Maui USA, and the other said PI2775. He was a green sea turtle who was approximately 50 years of age, and he had a girl turtle in the Piti Bomb Holes near by that he seemed to visit with.

In Mid-July, the tour operators at Fish Eye watched as people from the Department of Agriculture came and took Larry the turtle away.

They said they were taking him “to study,” according to the tour operators.

However, when we called the Department of Agriculture, they  claimed that the turtle “was a nuisance” and so as moved “to the other side of the island.”

Now of course, this was not his first time being caught on Guam. The Marine Biologists at Underwater World took him for study. They weighed him, measured him, and then released him on the other side of the island.

He swam right back, because he enjoys people and food.

However, after the Department of Agriculture claims to have taken him “to the other side of the island,” he did not swim back.

He was a very strong swimmer, and you can be sure that he was capable. How can you be sure, you ask? Well, the people at Underwater World were actually hoping that they could find some evidence that his rear flipper (which was damaged) made it too difficult for him to be in the wild.

They hoped this because they have a rescued sea turtle in the aquarium already, and they hoped for a second.

However, according to the laws governing the treatment of an endangered species, if they are found to be able to survive on their own, they cannot be “rescued.”

Ergo, we know that if the turtle had actually been released by the Department of Agriculture, he would have swam back as he had done before.

We cannot make conclusions from the information that we have. However, we can know two things for sure.

1. Turtle meat fetches a high price on Guam and on the other islands in the chain, because the Native people eat turtle. They know that these turtles are endangered, but some choose to do it anyway. Anyone who took the turtle to sell would have made a LOT of money.

2. They were very suspicious on the phone and asked for my husband’s full name and information before claiming that the turtle was moved. If they are keeping track of who is asking, then one would suggest that they have a reason to be worried.

I am not saying that the Department of Agriculture sold the turtle. However, I am saying without a doubt that they were the last people to have him, and that in two months, he has still not been sighted anywhere else.

If they did not sell him, then their choice to move him certainly seems to have brought about his untimely demise, leaving his girlfriend single and removing his genes from the species.

Furthermore, I spoke with several tour operators who said the initial complaint against the turtle was falsified.

They claim that he was good for business and made the tourists happy and that they would never have done anything that led to his removal.

It is certainly suspicious.

I hope that there will be an investigation, since selling an endangered species for profit is obviously illegal. However, given the diminished funding of the EPA, I worry that justice will not be served.

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Side Note:

I have also not seen the female turtle who was hanging around the Piti Bomb Holes near Fish Eye. However, I am not sure that not seeing her is significant. Green Sea Turtles are not social, and it is possible that she was just around to “visit” a boy turtle for a bit.

This is what she looked like:

girlfriend

If you look, you can see that you doesn’t have a tail that extends past her shell, or claws on her flippers. Only males have those traits (which is actually to hold onto the female’s shell.)

She was a little smaller than the male turtle, but they seemed similar in size and age.

girlfriend two

Anyway:

The point of this post is that if anyone has any information about the green sea turtle lovingly called “Larry” or “Crush” who used to live at Fish Eye Marine Park, please let me know.

Thank you.

Tanguisson Bleaching 5/10/17

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This album is from May of 2017.

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This is just some of the coral beaching that I have seen around Guam.

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I am trying to let NOAA and UOG know.

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It won’t help solve the problem, but it will help document what is happening.

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Maybe I find documenting it comforting because at least I am doing something.

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It’s not a something that fixes anything, but it’s something.

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If you know anyone in Marine Biology, make sure to pass this information along to them.

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Coral Bleaching at Gab Gab 9/2/17

Healthy coral has color to it. In the picture above, you can see healthy coral thriving at Gab Gab reef on May 2nd, 2017. This is what it is supposed to look like.

Unfortunately, the coral around the world is dying, and I want to talk about it for a moment.

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Coral is made up of many tiny animals called Polyps.

These little animals have specialized chloroplast cells inside called zooxanthellae. These chloroplasts absorb sunlight and convert it to food for the polyp. Without them, a polyp will die.

When the water temperature in an area gets too hot, the zooxanthellae stop being able to work. They are sensitive to temperature, and so they die.

When they die and the polyp pushes them out, the coral becomes white (since polyps have no color.) Eventually, the polyps die and the coral becomes nothing more than skeletons covered in algae.

 

The reefs on Guam are bleaching. This is part of a worldwide event, which is being driven by climate change.

I wanted to share these pictures and videos in an effort to draw attention to the fact that this is happening, and how awful it is.

These pictures are taken at Gab Gab, just like the one at the top of the page. The difference is only a few months, but the difference in the temperature in the water is extremely noticeable.

Before, it used to be a little chilly when you first got in. Gab Gab is a reef that goes from the surface water level down more than one hundred feet. Deeper water, in my experience, tends to be colder.

And yet, yesterday when I got in the water, it was hot.

I beg you all to take a very close look.

I think a lot of people who have never been snorkeling or diving are able to easily ignore the bleaching of the corals and the dying of the reefs.

For me, living here, it is much harder.

Coral are home to thousands of species of animals, and as they die, those animals will also die.

The diversity of life that we had in our oceans was amazing, and losing it is absolutely horrifying.

I have no words beautiful enough or sad enough to write the eulogy for our oceans. Nothing said or written could capture how beautiful this reef was just a few months ago.

Seeing the reef now as it bleaches and dies is one of the most painful things I have ever seen.

Dive Off Agat

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On Guam, most dives are off of a boat.

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This is because it’s hard to walk out past the reefs with tanks on.

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Mostly, we have bays with a reef at the edge. The good diving is past the reef. However, it’s typically a long walk.

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Thankfully, it’s not very expensive to get on a chartered boat dive.

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I got my certification through MDA, and so I go on their boat dives.

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There are other companies, but they all go the same places.

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It’s a small island, so there are only so many places to go.

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Dive at Fish Eye

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My husband got dive certified after me, and his instructor let me tag along. (That’s me above; not that you can tell.)

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We went to Fish Eye, which I have snorkeled several times. It was interesting to dive there.

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The class went around the base of the Fish Eye tourist attraction.

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I followed along, and got pictures of them feeding the fish.

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There are all kinds of fish, including groupers and barracudas.

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It was a short dive. We only stayed down for about 45 minutes.

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However, we got to see a lot of things in that time, and it was fun.

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If you are in Guam, I recommend going to Fish Eye Marine Park.

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It is a long walk out from shore, but there is a path to follow under the bridge, so it’s not so bad.

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And now, my husband and I are both certified to dive!

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Dive at Gab Gab

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I got my dive certification recently. It’s inexpensive on Guam. I paid $200 for the class, and was able to do lots of classroom time and several practice dives.

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My first dive by myself was with my friends Ashley and Jason. We went to Gab Gab, which is a beach on the Navy Base.

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Gab Gab is a nice place to dive because the entry point is a short staircase. Many beaches require a long walk out past the reef, but at Gab Gab you can just walk down the stairs.

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Traveling out past the reef, you can see all kinds of fish and even some sea turtles.

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Hiding in the coral you can find anemones with clown fish living in them.

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It’s a beautiful beach, but the pictures don’t come out as well as snorkeling pictures because there’s less light lower down.

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We had a really good time, but I am still learning.

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Gab Gab Snorkel

 

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Gab Gab beach is a lovely place to snorkel. It’s on the Navy Base, and it’s a hard coral reef with lots of beautiful fish and turtles.

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At first I couldn’t figure out why everyone said it was good. I was trying to snorkel from the beach wading out.

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However, if you go around to the pool and take the stairs, you can go out past the reef. That’s where the real excitement is.

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It is always dangerous to go past the reef, so make sure that there aren’t high winds. Those will cause currents, and that can be a problem.

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However, when it is safe and the water is calm, it’s a wonderful place to go.

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I had never been snorkeling until I came to Guam.

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It’s a steep learning curve trying to study all the names of the fish.

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After all, in Arizona there isn’t much call to learn fish names.

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However, it’s really a beautiful place to check out, even if you can’t name the fish afterwards.

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