World's Largest Travel Website Stops Selling Tickets to Cayman Turtle Centre
On the eve of World Turtle Day, the world's largest travel website—TripAdvisor—removed the sale of tickets to the Cayman Turtle Centre, where more than 5,000 endangered sea turtles live in horrific conditions.
The TripAdvisor decision puts even more pressure on one of the world's largest cruise line companies—Carnival Cruises Lines—to protect endangered sea turtles from shocking conditions at the center where sea turtles are crammed in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions, fed on an unnatural diet, resulting in abnormal behaviors such as aggression and even cannibalism.
In just under a month, more than 90,000 people across the world have now signed World Animal Protection's petition for Carnival Cruise Lines to stop sending tourists to the the venue.
"The public outcry about the ongoing animal cruelty at the Cayman Turtle Centre is growing every day," Neil D'Cruze, senior wildlife advisor at World Animal Protection, said.
"TripAdvisor has moved away from selling tickets to the centre; it's time for Carnival to stop ignoring public opinion and turning a blind eye. TripAdvisor's decision sends a clear message—animal suffering is not something tourists want on their holiday checklist. Momentum is growing and it is time for this farcical facility to transform into a true sea turtle rehabilitation centre."
Tourists visiting the center via Carnival Cruise Lines are usually unaware of the abuse and suffering the turtles experience when they are being handled.
According to a Cayman Islands Government commissioned report—229,393 people visited Cayman Turtle Centre in 2012, and 71 percent of them were cruise passengers. Carnival Cruise Lines is owned by the world's largest cruise company and operates many of its ships in the Caribbean.
The financial costs of the facility are extremely high and the center is already reliant on Caymanian Government subsidies of around $12 million (USD) per year, which could be better used to help protect and conserve endangered green sea turtles.
World Animal Protection is also concerned about possible health risks to turtles and people. In 2014 local media reports revealed that 1,268 turtles died due to Clostridium, the bacteria that can cause botulism, tetanus and other potentially serious health problems for people.
Last year, TripAdvisor announced they will stop selling tickets to some of the world cruelest wildlife activities, after a World Animal Protection petition collected more than 558,000 signatures from around the world.
The turtle center features in World Animal Protection's top 10 cruelest wildlife attractions.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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