Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conserve the sea commitment

Hashimi, I. (2006). Sea turtle awareness. Era Hijau - ke arah generasi lestari Vol. 3. 2006, pg 14-15.

Terbitan Jabatan Alam Sekitar Malaysia.


Concurrent with "2006: the International Year of Sea Turtles" and to enhance KPA teachers and members awareness of an endangered marine species of the world, the Education Coordinator of MNS Terengganu (ECoT) held a series of sea turtle awareness programmes between July to September 2006 at Ma'Daerah Turtle Sanctuary Centre, Kerteh, Kemaman, Terengganu.

The Ma' Daerah Turtle Sanctuary Centre in Rantau Abang near Dungun*, is managed by the Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre (Tumec)**, Department of Fisheries Malaysia. It is located at Ma' Daerah, a 1.7 km sandy beach which serves as a nesting site for the green turtles (Chelonia mydas / Penyu Agar). This species is one of the four species of sea turtles that roam in Malaysian waters. The other species are:

> Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea / Penyu Belimbing)
> Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata / Penyu Karah@Sisik)
> Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea / Penyu Lipas)

ECot has taken the initiative to educate school children especially MNS School Nature Club members or more popularly known as Kelab Pencinta Alam (KPA), through a series of programmes known as "Sea Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Camp". Each programme consists of several sessions; ice-breaking, environmental and sea turtle related games, talks and discussion, hands-on or practical session and a colouring session. The programmes are conducted over two days and a night (Wednesday to Thursday or From Thursday to Friday). The main talk and discussion session is conducted by TUMEC officers or by the ECot himself, who is also the Head of Education and Public Awareness Bureau under the Persatuan Khazanah Rakyat Ma' Daerah (MEKAR), a community-based sea turtles conservation society within the Paka-Kerteh-Kemasek area.

These educational outreach programmes focus on the impact of human activities on the green turtles's nesting behaviour as well as the turtles' struggle for survival in the wild. The impacts of a declining population of green turtles, as well as relevant historical background about Ma' Daerah Turtle Sanctuary Centre were highlighted.

Most importantly, the focus is on how the participants, as environmentalists and concerned citizens of Malaysia,

can assist the green and other sea turtles to survive in this area.

The THREATS to the green turtles of Ma'Daerah water:

~ by catch from illegal use of prohibited 'pukat pari', a special drift net used to catch the stingrays at Paka- Kerteh- Kemasek water.

~ Human interference and illegal egg collecting at the Paka-Kerteh_kemasek nesting grounds.

~ Coastal development and beach lighting, especially from the nearby petrochemical industrial zone, are disturbing the green turtles. (However, as Bukit Labohan is located between Ma' Daerah and the industrial zone, the Ma' Daerah nesting beach is being protected from bright light).

This year, 50 KPA teachers and 120 KPA members from secondary and upper primary schools from Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu joined the programmes.

It is hoped that as the school children become more aware of their role in green turtle conservation,

we will be able to more effectively protect and conserve them within Malaysian waters. We do not want to frighten these magnificent animals from returning to our shores. As for the teachers, we hope that they impart the knowledge to further educate the future generations about the importance of conserving the green sea turtles.

Source : Hashimi Ismail                              Email:

Note: * Rantau Abang near Dungun ~ should be written as Kampung Labohan near Kerteh.

** The sanctuary now is under the management of State Fisheries Department.