A few days ago we received very sad news. Dozens of people were poisoned after eating the meat of a sea turtle on Sunday, 18 February 2018 during a traditional celebration on the Indonesian Island of Siberut. Three people died of poisoning in the following days. Two of the victims were small children, the third victim an older man. Sixteen more people urgently needed medical care.
Consumption of sea turtles is prohibited in Indonesia, as in most countries, for the protection of these endangered animals. However, this is still practised in many places. Less well known is the fact that the consumption of turtle meat can cause severe, and even fatal, poisoning. This turned to be the fate for the inhabitants of Taileleu village in the south of the Island of Siberut off West Sumatra, who consumed a sea turtle during a festive ceremony, which was hunted the day before in the waters off the island. After eating the meat, people suffered severe symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, respiratory distress, and severe throat and stomach pain. In the course of the following three days, a two-and-a-half year old girl, a 65-year old man and a four-year old boy passed away. At least 16 more people needed urgent medical help, which was organised by the local health authority “Dinas Kesehatan Mentawai”. Providing medical care is difficult in this remote area, thus, additional help and a doctor arrived days later. According to data from the health authority, at least 95 people were affected by the poisoning.