Source AP ©

Scientists post cash reward for transmitters taken from missing turtle

Turtle transmitters wanted! Satellite transmitters which were glued to the back that creature before it was released to the South China Sea are beaming signals from an Indonesian coastal town – scientists are offering reward to anyone who can find them.

They believe the turtle - one of 12 released from a ship in the middle of the ocean as part of an experiment to monitor their behavior - was illegally captured and killed for its meat, but want to retrieve the devices to uncover insights into the behavior of the threatened sea creatures.

"We are interested in bringing closure to this case," C. H. Diong, a Singaporean zoologist taking part in the study, said Wednesday. "We are only interested in the science, not the legality. We don't want to frighten anyone."

The Olive Ridley turtle, which can grow up to 70 centimeters (2.5 feet) long and weigh 45 kilograms (nearly 100 pounds), had two satellite-tracking devices about the size of a cigarette packet attached to its shell.

One gave out a final signal several weeks ago from a port town on the southern tip of Sumatra island, while the other continues to transmit from the coastal town of Krui, around 240 kilometers (149 miles) miles away.

The reward offer for "information on and return of the two transmitters" has been passed to wildlife officials in Indonesia who plan to help the search by posting flyers around Krui, he said.

The 12 turtles from three different species were raised in captivity and released to see how they would adapt in the wild. Findings of the experiment will help in efforts to protect the creatures.

Diong said early data from the experiment suggested that the animals did well in their natural environment. They had not lost their ability to swim long distances or dive deeply, and were headed in the direction of other populations of their species, he said.

"Turtles are just turtles. We put them out there and they knew instinctively that it was their home," he said. "It was great to see them swim off speedily without hesitation."

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