Restaurateur Saves Rare Turtle From Pot They're 'spiritual creatures,' says Hong Kong chef By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Sep 6, 2013 1:37 AM CDT 9 comments Comments The population of hawksbill turtles has fallen by more than 80% over the last century. (Wikipedia/Clark Anderson/Aquaimages) (Newser) – A critically endangered sea turtle species is a little further from extinction today thanks to a friend in an unlikely place—a Hong Kong seafood restaurant. The restaurant's owner, who doubles up as the head chef, says that when a customer came in and asked him to cook a hawksbill turtle he had caught, he urged the customer to release it and paid him hundreds of dollars for it when he refused. The restaurateur says that in 20 years in the business, he has never seen anyone eat a sea turtle. "Turtles are spiritual creatures," he tells the South China Morning Post. "They bring good fortune and can live very long." He turned the turtle over to conservation officials, who will release it back into the wild if it passes health checks.