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A blog of scuba and marine life news in Malaysia. Auto-updated from Google News using keywords. (Sometimes can be a bit salah.)
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Malaysian Fisheries Research Institute feeds baby turtles to predators

Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:02 pm

RECENTLY, the Fisheries Research Institute (formerly known as Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre, TUMEC) organised the mass release of sea turtle hatchlings in Rantau Abang, Dungun, a popular spot for turtle watchers in the 80’s.

The event was aimed at raising public awareness to save the sea turtles and to highlight the management and conservation of sea turtles. In short, this was a publicity event with an aim of being included in the Malaysia’s Book of Records.

In any conservation effort, the priority is always the animals, which in this case were the sea turtles.

Hatchlings, or baby sea turtles, were released during this event, but there were also the older ones that didn’t fit the description of being a baby turtle. The drawback, however, was in the methodology used for the release of these hatchlings.

The hatchlings were held back for three to five days after they were hatched. Currently, there is no scientific evidence recommending the holding back of turtle hatchlings after they are hatched. Prof Chan Eng Heng, founder of Turtle Conservation Centre, mentioned that holding back the hatchlings would make them hungry and thus, become weak and easier preys.

It was said that the hatchlings were released at 5.45pm which means it was not dark. Hatchlings naturally hatched start their journey to the sea in the dark to reduce predation. Thus, the mass release of these baby turtles may in fact benefit marine predators such as sharks and other bigger fish which happen to be around at the time these turtles were released.

The event should have a key message which is in itself educational. There are many resorts which practise bad turtle hatchling management by keeping them and then releasing them at the wrong time of the day. This FRI event should have demonstrated to the public on how to release turtle hatchlings in a proper manner.

AZIMI AZMIN,
Help Our Penyu (HOPE).
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