Sale of baby hawksbill turtles from Palau advertised on internet for Chinese market
By: L.N. Reklai
July 18, 2016 (Koror) Chinese tour operators in Palau are reporting that the story featuring a missing napoleon wrasse from Blue Corner, allegedly killed by Chinese tourist, had also gone viral on the Chinese social media Wechat.
“I’ve have been getting lots of messages daily from our customers in China asking if it’s true that the napoleon wrasse really has disappeared. Our customers that have dove out there and seen these fish and want to verify if it’s true,” said Norma, the Chinese tour agent for MK Tours who is very fluent in English.
The Chinese tour operators and guides in Palau are all talking and sharing information, trying to find out if this is true and if so, who is responsible.
“We have contacted Mr. Greg Piper to see if he has any evidence so we can find out who the people are,” added the lady.
“We have very good Chinese diving customers but, I’m sorry to say, but we also have ones with very bad habits and we are trying to get everybody to comply with the law. If they won’t comply, we will report to rangers.”
According to the group of Chinese operators, they’ve tried to identify the people pictured on facebook with death napoleon fish. “I’ve been in Palau in tourism business for over 2 years and I don’t know these people,” said one of the members. “We are all passing pictures in Wechat to see if anyone can identify the two guys. Someone had messaged that they are from Fiji but we are still waiting for confirmation,” he added.
According to the Chinese dive guides, there are napoleon wrasses at Blue Corner, Blue Hole, German Channel, and inside end of Ulong Channel. “Normally, we would feed them with eggs and they come close to us but in March, rangers started telling people not to feed the fish. Since then, the fish keeps a safe distance from people, about 10 to 15 meters. Sometimes, they are curious and they come a bit close, but they don’t come as close like you see in the news photo, unless you look like you have food for them. The fish are still there but they are not coming up to divers as much.” stated a Chinese dive guide. Dive guide promised to provide a picture in two days after his next dive.
Another picture received from NECO Marine, showed an advertisement on internet selling live baby hawksbill turtles from Palau to China. The person selling is identified as a Taiwanese named Jiahong Liu (Ray), who works for a local tour company, KBT. He also has pictures of himself with death sharks on the internet.
One of the Chinese tour operators, who did not wish to be identified, translated and confirmed the information on the internet saying that the person was indeed offering live baby turtles for sale.
“We are very sorry that there are these bad customers but we are working very hard to educate our customers. Many of our Chinese divers appreciate the beauty of these rare animals and don’t want to see them disappear too,” stressed Norma, of MK Tour. [/restrict]