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Dead fish and turtles found floating behind marketplace

The Department of Marine Wildlife Resources (DMWR) is looking into a mystery, as yesterday afternoon, dead fish and dead turtles were seen floating in the ocean behind the Marketplace in Fagatogo.

DMWR Assistant Biologist Ailao Tualaulelei said they were made aware of the incident when someone contacted their office yesterday afternoon.

Tualaulelei said close to 50 dead fish (Aku) and three dead turtles were floating behind the market place and were floating into the larger bay area, which will be a health hazard to the members of the public, given the foul smell coming from the dead fish.

The Assistant Biologist said the DMWR enforcement crews are out in the ocean investigating the cause.

Tualaulelei said they suspect the dead sea life came from a fishing vessel which was docked at the Marina Dock.

However, Samoa News was told by an unconfirmed source that the dead fish and turtles were net by- catches from a purse seiner unloading at one of the canneries. The by-catch was dumped into the bay, during unloading, which is not unusual.

Alden Tagarino, DMWR’s head wildlife Biologist, said the initial report they received said that there were three dead turtles; however when they went to the site, they found only one. (Samoa News witnessed three turtles floating earlier.)

Tagarino said when they found the dead turtle it appeared to have been dead for a while and it already had maggots on it. He said they took in the turtle, along with several fish, and they will analyze the fish and conduct a necropsy on the turtle next Monday to determine the cause of death.  

He added that if the turtle has been decomposing for a very long time, he will not be able to send tissue samples off island for further assistance in this investigation.

NOAA enforcement officer Kevin Painter told Samoa News that until DMWR can determine if foul play was involved with the dead turtle, they will not step in. They are awaiting the report from DMWR, which will determine if they get involved.

Samoa News asked Tagarino if DMWR has collected the dead fish to be properly dumped; however Tagarino said that is not their job, that’s an ASEPA responsibility.

ASEPA Deputy Director Fa’amao Asalele Jr. said that he was not aware of the dead fish or the turtle9s) until Samoa News contacted him. The ASEPA Deputy Director said they will get on this matter right away.  

Coast Guard Lt. Steven Caksey said this matter falls under DMWR jurisdiction.