Turtles get a lifeline in Terengganu

DUNGUN: Resort beaches in Terengganu including Rantau Abang here used to record up to 10,000 leatherback turtle landings in the 1950s.

At that time Rantau Abang was very lively and crowded with thousands of visitors but this declined when often less that 50 turtle landings were sighted in the early 1990s.

This prompted Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) to set up its Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) in 1993 with a station at Chagar Hutang, Pulau Redang.

SEATRU chief researcher, associate professor Dr Juanita Joseph said Pulau Redang recorded less that 500 nests with about 100 turtles landing when the project started.

"We bought green and hawksbill turtles' eggs from licensed turtle egg collectors at RM120 per nest (to incubate them)," she said.

In 2005, the state government declared Chagar Hutang, Mak Simpan and Mak Kepit beaches on Pulau Redang as turtle sanctuaries.

Collecting turtle eggs for sale was abolished allowing all turtle eggs collected on the island to be incubated.

"Nesting data showed turtle landings on Pulau Redang had increased in 2010, namely, 17 years after the research started," she said when met by Bernama.

"Most exhilaratingly, 1,000 turtle nests were recorded at Chagar Hutang for the first time, and 1,500 nests last year," she said.

In the more than two decades the research was conducted, UMT had protected more than 13,000 turtle nests and successfully released a million turtle hatchlings, she added. — Bernama