I was excited the day had arrived to be a turtle volunteer even for a mere day and a half. Thanks to blogging pal, Ee Lynn for her efforts and sharing. Our short stint at Padang Kemunting was a wonderful experience with the hawksbill turtles, marine treasure of Melaka.
My first experience with turtles was way back in the early 80s. Then the great leatherback turtles were returning to our shores in Trengganu on the East Coast. We had a natural heritage that we should have held so close to our hearts. But poaching, overfishing and pollution etc took its toll. Thankfully, sometime in 2010,a giant turtle made a surprise visit to Rantau Abang. Conservationists dubbed her 'Puteri Rantau Abang'(Princess). We long to see Puteri back to our shores.
Our turtles must be protected. Besides the conservationists doing their bit, we can also do ours following some simple steps:
1. Stop eating or buying turtle eggs in the market
2. Abide by the law. Only licensed collectors are allowed to collect eggs. Report illegal activity.
3. Do not disturb turtles that come up to the beach to nest.
4. Keep the nesting beach quiet and dark.
5. Stop using fishing gears that are detrimental to turtles.
6. Do not pollute the habitats of turtles eg. beaches, rivers and seas.
|In the Audio room, a placard ( in Malay) by a toy turtle which says, " I promise not to eat, buy and sell turtle eggs.' All part of the education outreach as poaching of eggs is still practised.|
|Volunteers, Mary and Sheela helping to keep the hatchery area clean of debris and the fallen leaves from the ketapang trees.|
|A young volunteer learning, observing.|
|45 -56 days later baby turtles will emerge .|
|Encik Mohamad explaining the data on the placard : date the eggs were laid, number of eggs in the hatchery, location of hatchery, place of nesting , licensed collector's name|
|Hurray! the little ones are ready to be released to the open sea.|
|Past 3.40 am on the beach, looking out. A miscommunication occurred, so we missed the hawksbill turtle that had come to do its duty and leave for the open ocean again. Safe journey... Do come back again, dear turtle.|
|Volunteer Stefan handling the tutrle with care, transferring from the pond to the bath enclosure. There are 4 other turtles kept for research and rehabilitation. They will be duly tagged, released by biologists when deemed ready.|
|It's bathtime, mate! We cleaned the shell (carapace) to remove the algae to prevent parasites from breeding.|
|Swim, swim swim - in the pond at the TIC . Note the green colour of the algae on the shell.|
|Rapt attention on the turtles.|
|In his book, Pakcik Harun, one of the licensed collectors, keeps records of nestings etc. He's been a custodian for 20 odd years and faithfully patrols the beach.|
|We came together for the turtles.|