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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 12:28 GMT
Aquarium worker makes turtle stew
Leatherback turtle
Leatherbacks: rare sea turtle species
A popular aquarium in Miami has come under fierce criticism after meat from a rare sea turtle was used to make stew.


This is the absolute height of stupidity. We're changing the name to Miami Seaquarium and Barbecue

Aquariam critic Russ Rector
A huge leatherback turtle, weighing 362k (800lbs), was struck by a boat propeller and brought to the Miami Seaquarium. But the animal, which is a protected species, died after attempts to save it failed.

A park worker was then given permission to take home several kilos of turtle meat which he used to make stew. He brought it back the next day to share with co-workers.

Outrage

The incident has outraged long-time critics of the aquarium, who oppose what they say are cramped pools for dolphins and killer whales.

Largest living turtle

Average length 2m (6.5ft), weight up to 700k (1,500 lbs)

Diet of jellyfish, squid and marine fauna

Female leatherback turtles come ashore to lay eggs, using the moon and stars to navigate

Numbers reduced by drift net fishing, hotel building and egg poaching

''This is the absolute height of stupidity,'' critic Russ Rector said. ''We 're changing the name to Miami Seaquarium and Barbecue.''

The Seaquarium general manager, Robert Martinez, sent the workers a memo after the incident warning them to dispose of animal carcasses properly or face dismissal.

The incident at the aquarium, which prides itself on rescuing distressed animals, occurred last April but has come to light only this week.

No charges were filed because Seaquarium's permit did not specify how to dispose of dead animals.

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See also:

13 Nov 00 | Scotland
Giant turtle fights for life
07 Apr 00 | Scotland
Turtle mania causes welfare headache
30 Nov 99 | Americas
Tourism protects Surinam's turtles
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