Two sea turtles, whose painted and abused carcasses prompted an outcry on social media at the weekend, were likely dead when they washed up on the beach and before they were abused, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said in a statement Saturday.
Images of the dead turtles were posted on Facebook by a beach preservation activist on Friday and quickly shared among other users, sparking outrage.
Hebrew media reports said that rocks were also found near the turtles’ bodies — which were daubed with what appeared to be red paint — prompting concerns the animals had been stoned to death on Betzet Beach, just south of Rosh Hanikra on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
כמה עצוב, מזעזע, ומכעיס ????יום שישי, חג שני של פסח.בבוקר – אנשים טובים עוזרים לשחרר חזרה לים צב ים ששוקם במרכז…
However, the INPA said the sea creatures were probably dead or very close to dead when they reached the shore.
“Regrettably, each year about 300 sea turtles are washed up onto Israeli beaches after being harmed by marine waste, fishing nets, hooks, boat motors and other things,” the statement said. “Most are washed up dead and those found alive… are taken for treatment at the INPA sea turtle rescue center.”
Nonetheless, the nature and parks authority noted the severity of attacking wild animals, whether dead or alive.
Betzet Beach is one of the locations along Israel’s coastline where sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. Both loggerhead and green sea turtles populate the Mediterranean Sea, with both varieties laying their eggs along the Israeli coast.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.