Take cohesive action to protect peninsular marine turtles — Tapash Rudra

NOVEMBER 24 — Peninsular sea turtles are slotted among better-known marine creatures that the Peninsula has to offer, with their conservation history dating far back to early 1950s.

Moreover, they have been thoroughly studied and several works also been carried out on them. Local media, popular magazines, scientific journals and global data bases all are in a continuous effort to establish their necessity in the ecosystem.

Having said that, the number of marine turtles in this peninsula is progressively declining. Species like Leatherback and Ridley turtles already reached the verge of extinction, while few others are in vulnerable to endangered category, according to the latest reports of WHO.

Anthropological threats are the major cause of worries of the constant decline of the sea turtles. Egg exploitation, commercial hunting of marine turtles, fishing mortality, lack of nesting places, marine pollution are equally contributing to the overall outcome.

In case of crocodiles, if the temperature in a particular hatching season goes below 37 degree Celsius, all the offspring would be males and if in a season the temperature exceeds 37 degree Celsius, all the offspring would be females.

Like crocodiles, sex of the turtles are determined by the thermal fluctuations as well. There is a 1:10 ratio regarding the production of the male and female counterparts of these creatures depending on the seasonal variation.

I must emphasise that the strategy on marine turtle conservation is not lacking, but it has to be more pronounced and cohesive.

In conjunction with this, I would like to quote marine conservation biologist Scott Mayback, “Malaysia has been doing turtle conservation for 50 years but the focus has mostly been on hatch-lings — eggs, nesting etc. But not much has been done for adult turtles or injured juveniles.”

In addition to this, in my opinion, there must be a concerted effort to make strong legislative policies and conservation acts to protect the rapid demise of these precious marine animals.

I would also like to stress that specific egg incubation programmes should be implemented and expanded for the propagation, egg protection of the marine turtles.

Malaysia, for example; right now has few nesting sites for marine turtles. In my suggestion, the current nesting sites of Terengganu, Pahang, Perak and Melaka should be straight away announced as “turtle sanctuaries.”

Last but not the least, countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo should exchange thoughts with the neighboring nations to wipe out the stigma of turtle conservation.

It is also recommended to utilise advanced technology and recent global data bases aimed at overall conservation of the marine turtles.

* Dr Tapash Rudra is with the Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Lincoln University College, Malaysia.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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