February 12, 2018

Turtle Landing sites are under Threat

Turtle Landing sites are under Threat

A sea turtle lands on a beach. Photo Credit: YouTube

Sea turtle nesting sites in Labuan are declining. As compared to 2016 there are a third fewer such landings on Kuraman and Rusukan Besar islands by hawksbill turtles, olive-ridley turtles and green turtles. So says Anuar Deraman, director of Labuan Marine Park.

“Despite [an] increase of 18% in hawksbill sea turtle landings on our marine park’s beach, the overall landing of turtles has declined (by 33%),” he was quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency. “We hope we will not see the landing sites perish.”

Newly hatched hawksbill turtles make their way to the sea for the first time. Photo Credit: Pinterest

The reasons for the fewer landings include manmade factors, the director said. “The bright lights from the oil rigs at night can disturb the movement of these turtles to lay eggs in our marine parks,” he elucidated. “In addition, there were deaths of turtles reported by members of the public as a consequence of getting stuck in drift nets and hit by the boat engine propellers.”

Elsewhere in Malaysia, too, turtles are facing threats to their landing sites in the form of coastal development, poaching and other disruptive activities. In Perak, sand dredging at the estuary of Sungai Puyu in the Sengari area has affected local turtle landing sites, according to conservationists. The sand-dredging work is scaring away turtles and disturbing their habitats by altering the topography of the coastline.

“It will alter the shape of the estuary and river bed, aside from disrupting the tidal currents and natural hydrological processes,” said Mohamed Idris, president of the conservationist group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM). “We are also concerned that sand dredging at night with lights and noise may cause disturbances that keep turtles from coming to shore. Another possible impact is coastal erosion.”

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has dismissed such concerns by insisting that sand-dredging activities in the area leave turtle landing sites unaffected. Be that as it may, it’s undeniable that Malaysia’ sea turtle populations have been under constant threat. Coastal development has been robbing them of their nesting sites. Fishing has been causing them to be ensnared in nets, often with fatal consequences. Poaching has been depriving them of their eggs.


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