Sorong, W Papua (ANTARA) - A dead sea turtle, one of the protected animals in Indonesia, was sighted in the waters off Misokoon Island in Raja Ampat district, West Papua province, over the weekend, a local resident has said.

The carcass of the sea turtle was found drifting in the waters, but there were no wounds seen on its body, Eny Warga Manswar told ANTARA in a phone interview from Sorong city on Monday.

Local residents did not know how to handle the carcass or determine the causes of its death, he informed. Therefore, they let it drift away, Manswar said.

In May this year, West Papua Police's marine unit had apprehended a local resident over the possession of two endangered sea turtles that he allegedly caught in the protected conservation areas of Suprau Tanjung Kausari in Sorong city.

One of the two hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) was found alive, while the other one had died, head of Law Enforcement Affairs at the West Papua Police's Marine Unit, Commissioner Syarifur Rahman, informed.

For the proper handling of the seized hawksbill turtle, police investigators coordinated with officials from the West Papua Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), West Papua Fisheries and Maritime Office's Marine and Coastal Resources Management, and the Papua Turtle Foundation, he said in a statement.

The surviving turtle had suffered a grave injury that necessitated veterinary care, Rahman added.

The Indonesian archipelago is blessed with a variety of flora and fauna, several of which are categorized as "iconic species."

According to the Ocean Health Index, a valuable tool for assessing ocean health, iconic species are "animals or plants which are important to cultural identity, as shown by their involvement in traditional activities."

Indonesia is home to several iconic species, including the sea turtle. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia has reported that six of the seven living species of sea turtles recognized by scientists can be found in the country.

According to WWF Indonesia’s official website, four of the six species of sea turtles -- green turtles (Chelonia mydas), "belimbing" or leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), "sisik" or hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and "lekang" or olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) -- lay their eggs in several of the country's coastal areas.

The Indonesian waters are also the most crucial migratory route for sea turtles at the crossroads of the Pacific and Indian oceans, it said.

Abun sub-district's coastal areas in Tambrauw district, West Papua province, are known as the largest nesting spots of leatherback turtles in the Pacific region.

The Derawan Islands in East Kalimantan province have been recorded by WWF Indonesia as the largest nesting spot of green turtles in Southeast Asia.

In Java Island, Trisik Beach in Kulon Progo district, Yogyakarta province, is also known as a green turtle nesting site.

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Translator: Ernes BK, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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