PETALING JAYA: A group of divers on an excursion in Pulau Bidong on Wednesday stumbled upon a devastating sight – the carcass of a critically endangered hawksbill turtle tied to a rock.
The dead turtle was discovered by the group of nine divers in Terengganu's Underwater Gallery in Pulau Bidong.
"One of its hind legs (paddle-like flippers) was tied to a rock. Our dive instructor then cut the turtle loose," Universiti Malaya Terengganu (UMT) student Kong Mei Shuet, 21, told The Star Online on Friday.
According to Kong, someone must have tied the turtle to the rock.
"The knot was neatly tied to a rock and to the deeper part of the leg. It is impossible for a turtle's leg to be stuck that deep into that tightened knot," she explained.
Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles and need to surface occasionally to breathe.
"The body of the turtle simply floated to the surface after we released it from the rock. Before it floated away, we honoured it by taking it for one last swim. We do not want to bury it on land as the natural habitat for turtles is the ocean," said the marine biology student.
She expressed her dismay at the treatment of the rare and vulnerable species.
Kong also said that she was more motivated to protect the ocean after the encounter.