he video was posted on the Facebook page of Fa Rook Utai at 10:02pm Wednesday (Dec 22). The page is marked with a URL noting the name Rook Bennington.
One person, a Thai, criticised the behaviour, pointing out that turtles came ashore to nest.
One foreigner posted, “About to get kicked out of Thailand, when the authorities see this!”
The reply posted by Fa Rook Utai was, “Do you know normally people here in some areas eat [turtles], and I don’t want to see them being eaten or traded, and at first my friends chased them into the sea, but they were still eating jellyfish. This is why I had to ride on his back, make it feel scared and escape into the sea. (Before commenting, please ask for the reasons for the action. Thank you very much)”.
The video itself did not appear to show the men trying to scare off the turtle. Instead, it appears the men were “joyriding” on the turtle’s back. One of the men is seen posing while “planking” on his stomach while riding the turtle.
An officer at Sirinath Marine National Park confirmed that no action could be taken by park officers as the incident occurred outside the park’s boundaries.
Hiran Kanghae of the Phuket Marine Biological Center told The Phuket News, “Riding a turtle is a serious inappropriate behaviour, a threat that may result in the mother turtle not returning to spawn and possibly dropping her eggs in the sea. It is illegal if the turtle is injured.”
The PMBC will look into the incident, Mr Niran said.
“Green sea turtles are protected animals under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 2019,” he noted.
PMBC Director Somnuk Boonyai, after being notified of the incident by Mr Hiran,said, “We are now contacting the man who posted the clip to investigate the facts to consider whether there are any legal offenses.”
Officers at Sirinath National Park reported a green turtle coming ashore to lay eggs on the beach in front of the visitor’s centre at 4am yesterday (Dec 23).
The turtle took 2 hours and 30 minutes to lay 75 eggs and return to the sea.
The park officers deemed the site where they nest was laid as unsafe, due to possible flooding by high tides, and moved the eggs to a protected area in front of the park rangers’ office.
The eggs are now under 24-hour surveillance to ensure safekeeping from predators and other disturbances.
It has not been confirmed whether or not it was the same turtle abused by the joyriding.
The turtle joyriding incident occurred at Bang Tao Beach, just 2.6km south of Sirinath National Park’s southern boundary, and has seen numerous turtles come ashore over the years.
Prarop Plangngarn, Chief of “Operations Center 2” at Sirinath Marine National Park, last year called for hotels and other beachfront businesses to join a campaign to create turtle preservation zones to protect turtle eggs being laid along west-coast beaches on Phuket’s northwest coast.
“Presently, there are only a few areas that are suitable for turtles to lay their eggs because of the continual expansion of human communities and the tourism industry,” Mr Prapop told The Phuket News.
“The turtles are afraid of humans on shore, so relevant officers must take action to change the environmental factors to help encourage turtles to come ashore to lay their eggs.
“We need to create turtle protection areas, and we need to do it quickly,” he said.
“Turtles have returned to laying eggs in the area. We have not seen this for years. The last time leatherback turtles were spotted returning to Sirinath national park was in 2013,” Mr Prarop said.
The areas under consideration include the beaches at Nai Yang as well as Mai Khao Beach – at 14 kilometres long, Phuket’s longest beach – all the way to Sai Kaew Beach on the northwestern tip of the island.
However, the zone at this stage does not include areas south of the national park.
“From October through December, turtles came ashore near a luxury resort on the headland just south of the park and laid eight different nests of turtle eggs,’ Mr Prarop pointed out in January last year.
“The eggs were taken into care by officials from the Phuket Marine Biological Center [PMBC]. We strongly believe more turtles will come back to lay more eggs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sirinath National Park is among six national parks to be proposed for World Heritage status.
The proposal was discussed at a meeting of the Protected Area Committee held at the Sirinath National Park head office led by Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong last December.
“Officials must first inform local people about the importance and the advantages of being recognised as world heritage sites, so that they can understand and support the proposal,” Vice Governor Piyapong said.