RELEASE THE TURTLES!
Baby turtle released into the sea!
I had the privilege of experiencing a very awakening moment just a few weeks ago. We headed down to Kudat, north of Kinabalu, and also home to the Tip of Borneo where the Sulu Sea meets South China Sea to be a part of a hundred Green Turtle Hatchlings being released into the wild.
It was organized by Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS), a small society with big dreams to help save and create awareness amongst local and tourist alike in regards to conserving and improving Sea Turtles population in Marine Parks at Kudat Area. At a glimpse, it all looked like a huge success done overnight, but as I got to talk to one of its Co-Founder, Mr. Roland Agansai, what seemed like a day’s work, is actually months and months of hard work preparation and determination on not giving.
I say hard work and determination on not giving up is because most of us take these little creatures for granted. Sea Turtles used to be abundant in Sabah waters. When I was a little girl, my parents and I would always do road trips around Sabah, and they would be natives selling their workmanship or farming goods at the side of the roads. You’ll be able to encounter all sorts of local/exotic delicacies! They will be selling wild boar meat, deer meat, snake meat, live pigeons, dead bats, even turtle eggs! Back then, Sea Turtles were not endangered, and locals do eat its eggs for protein.
Nowadays, selling or even consuming these delicacies are not allowed and against the law because Sea Turtles are in the brink of survival currently, like many other wild animals. Back date to ten years ago, Adult sized Sea Turtles would come to the shores of Kudat Beaches to lay their eggs every night. Each night, you’ll be able to find 3-5 Sea Turtles laying their eggs. Each Sea Turtle would lay around 100 eggs on average. That’s around 500 eggs a night!! But that was ten years ago. Now, to get one Sea Turtle come to shore to lay its eggs in a month is considered as great work for KTCS and the Wildlife Wardens who watches over the beach lines every night.
Out of the hundred percent hatches, only ten percent will survive and have the chance to grow up to be an adult. It takes ten to fifty years after hatching to reach maturity (depending on what species), will they then be able to mate. Within that time, they will be able to mate every two to four years over the course of their adulthood. Female Sea Turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs, and they always return to the place where they were born. How cool is that knowing that those baby Green Turtles that was released recently has a ten percent chance of coming back to the same beach I stood just a few weeks ago. Ten percent, that’s one Sea Turtle returning after a decade at Sea.
The reason why chances of them surviving in the wild is extremely and alarmingly low is because of humans;-
- Destruction and degradation of their nesting and feeding grounds
- Fisheries by-catch
- Poaching of turtles and their eggs both by locals and offshore poachers
- Entangled and killed by marine debris that is mistaken for food
- Killed by boat propeller
-Retrieved from KTCSBorneo
Sunset View from the Kudat Beach
More spectators, local and visitors came to witness the released of the baby turtles to the sea
Go..GO..GO..free to the sea baby turtles
At such a low rate, it broke my heart learning that our future generations will not have a chance to even know what a Sea Turtle is unless they read it somewhere or saw a picture. But to see it in person, to view its majestic beauty with their own eyes… I doubt that can ever materialize for them if we do not do something about it.
As of now, KTCS welcomes more organizations and individuals to be part of their family and spread the love about Sea Turtles. These gentle giants, though with a sturdy shell, are very fragile creatures that need our help for a chance at surviving our ever growing era.
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