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The appearance of turtles at the Lough amenity has caused concerns

Recently seven turtles were seen on the shores of The Lough in Cork and the public fears there might be a virus outbreak among the wildlife there soon. As humans are locked indoors due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, wildlife in different regions of the world has gotten some breathing space too.  Dolphins were spotted in the canals of Venice, a puma was seen roaming freely in the streets of Santiago, deer were also seen wandering about in the streets of Japan, and Kangaroos came out in the streets of Sydney.

While this activity from the wildlife has spiked interest among the community worldwide, this particular group of turtles has caused fear among people. The general perception about the turtles lounging on the shores of the Lough’s island is that they were perhaps ‘unwanted’ pets. The city officials have raised concerns, and they believe that these turtles were released in the ‘wild’ after their owners did not want them anymore.

The appearance of turtles has caused some excitement for the onlookers. Still, on the other hand, there are concerns that these turtles may pose some biosecurity hazards to the wildlife and to the community as well. A spokesperson stated that if these issues are real, then it is not fair on the ecosystem and is also not fair on the turtles. The release of affected turtles into the ecosystem is putting the whole ecosystem of the Lough at risk.

The concerns are more serious at the Lough due to the reason that around two years ago, almost the entire population of carp was killed. The idea behind these deaths was the outbreak of the carp Edema virus in the ecosystem of the Lough.

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“Released unwanted pets into the Lough is not the solution. It’s putting the whole ecosystem at risk.”

Officials are monitoring the situation and will intervene if it’s felt the turtles’ presence is having a negative effect.

A similar outbreak occurred at a private carp fishery in Cobh at the same time and the outbreaks forced the suspension of angling at the Lough and at a number of other fisheries in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

Local Independent Cllr Mick Finn said while it was lovely to see turtles, who may be freshwater terrapins, taking the sun at the Lough, it must be pointed out that they are an invasive species and their presence does give rise to concern.

“They were probably pets at one stage, who, once no longer wanted, were simply released into the wild here,” he said.

“Cities have been extremely quiet in recent weeks and there hasn’t been as much pollution or interaction with the public and nature has responded. And it is great to see more wildlife in our rivers and waterways.

Author: Eoin English

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