KOTA KINABALU – Sabah is blessed with abundance beauty in nature. One can’t deny that the state has one of the most amazing islands and tourism products in the Southeast Asia or even in the world.
However, in all of the beauty comes with great responsibility. The recent incidents where a merciless killing of sea turtles at Pulau Tiga in Kudat shows that something needed to be done, more than ever.
While various programmes and actions had been taken place by the respective authorities and environmental NGOs, it took time to change people take on the conservation.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Malaysia) the sea turtles were at the stake of extinction because the selling and eating of turtle eggs still occurred.
The other factors such as food poisoning from eating too much plastic thrown into the sea by irresponsible people and due to destruction of their habitat, pollution, over hunting and lack of understanding of the important role plays by this iconic marine life in maintaining the equilibrium of the ecosystem.
As such, WWF has continuously disseminating information and providing awareness education programmes on preserving sea turtle population for the younger generation. They even team-up with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in various scientific expeditions, environmental programmes as well as sharing knowledge.
Meanwhile, for UMS a research on sea turtles has been done since 1998. UMS has conducted various projects and one of the renowned project is the Mabul World Turtle Day that has become an annual event included in the Sabah tourism calendar.
The event hopes to enhance the public appreciation of these iconic marine life and to educate them in the importance of sea turtles that inhabit the reefs of Mabul.
Sea turtles are highly migratory reptiles that are believed to have existed since the Triassic period, about 200 million years ago. These magnificent air-breathing animals spend almost all their life in the sea. There are three species of sea turtles that nest in Sabah namely the green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivecea).
Now the question is how the public can play their part? If you can spot a tagged turtle; please take a photograph and record the tag numbers, species of turtle, approximate size, gender (turtles with long and thick tales are adult males) and if there is any signs of injury or disease to Dr. Pushpa Palaniappan, Borneo Marine Research Institute UMS by email at [email protected] – By Fizah Yusof/SayangSabah