Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hawksbill turtles calling at Pantai Padang Kemunting, Melaka

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.

We were relieved to see this sign as we had to ask for directions to the Centre. TIC started operation in 1990, collaborates with WWF to implement outreach programmes  and do research to protect the decreasing numbers of hawksbill turtles that come to land  along the coast of Melaka and the islands nearby.

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. 


  1. I would love to be part of such a project. Great pictures. We all need to this for the sake of turtles.

  2. Thanks so much for this post, Keats, especially the checklist of what everyone can do to help turtles. We did have a great time, didn't we? Next round will begin in April 2013, after Raptor Watch! Hope you will join us again!

  3. Big hearts to have gone this far to save the turtles. Great work. Kudos.

  4. I wish easıly your activities,with my best wishes

  5. Wonderful effort at conservation with lots of volunteering effort.

  6. I applaud your post to encourage more responsible behavior! The turtles are cute.

  7. True, turtles need to be preserved

  8. Nice... thanks for the post as now we have some place to go in case we are in the neighborhood...

  9. Let me know if we can support such activity, salute to all the volunteers:)

    Simon Lee

  10. Wow wow wow. I love turtles and I am planning to visit Malaysia next year. Would love to do something like this. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I've never come across wild turtles or turtle eggs, so I guess they're safe from me.

  12. I love turtles. They're beautiful creatures. Thanks for sharing some points on how we could help protect them.

  13. Interesting post...

    Beautiful photos...

    Nice narration

    thanks for sharing


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