The Olive Ridley Turtle is extinct in Malaysia. The Leatherback Sea Turtle was last sighted in Rantau Abang in 2011. The only species left are the Malaysian Green Turtle and the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Let’s not mince our words: it is an alarming situation. “The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia was a breeding ground for turtles 15 years ago; now, it’s a threat to endangered turtles,” Bill Matthews, Project Coordinator of the Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (LTTW), says of the well-documented sea turtle egg poaching that goes on in these parts.
When a species becomes extinct, the ecosystem is affected as well. According to Matthews, baby turtles are a natural source of food for sharks and other sea animals, but the latter “too will become extinct without them. The same goes for the health of corals.” Hence, LTTW hopes to restore the ecosystem that humans have destroyed. “The survival rate of baby turtles against nature is 1:1,000; whereas the survival rate of baby turtles against egg poachers is 1:4,000,” he adds.
Egg poachers aside, our seas and beaches, especially those at Tanjong Jara, Taju Tiga and Lang Tengah, need immediate attention. Beneath the clear, blue waters and on the sandy beaches lie the most disgusting “treasures” you can find, which are a threat to marine life. So, why not put your muscles to good use in your spare time and volunteer to clean up these turtle-nesting beaches as often as you can?
While many continue to prey on turtles and their eggs, a small percentage do the exact opposite. Cosmetic giant, KOSÉ, for example, is playing its part in saving these turtles. “2% from the sales of Sekkisei Lotion (500ml) Save The Blue Edition and Sekkisei Herbal Gel will be donated to turtle conservation,” says Ashley Loke, KOSÉ’s Senior Marketing Executive. The company also adopts turtle nests via the LTTW conservatory.
You too can make donations and adopt turtle nests. Save these little guys before it’s too late. Matthews takes us behind the scenes to shed light on what you can do to help.
1. Adopt Turtle Nests
You can buy nests from LTTW and they will take care of your turtle eggs for you. “The rangers protect the eggs and the hatchlings before releasing them into the ocean,” Matthews says. Of course, you are more than welcome to join the rangers at Tanjong Jara a few days before the eggs hatch. You’ll get to watch your turtles make their way awkwardly towards the ocean.
2. Donate Money To Build New Hatcheries
It’s important to keep turtle eggs away from predators such as monitor lizards, crabs, seagulls and humans. The hatcheries built on the beach of Tanjong Jara Resort Terengganu help to shelter the eggs until they hatch. Matthews also mentions that the hatchlings are confined to the hatchery until the rangers release them at midnight (when predators are less likely to be on the prowl). “Hawksbill and Green Turtles only lay their eggs on the Terengganu beach every two to five years so more hatcheries are needed,” he adds.
3. Clean A Turtle-Nesting Beach
Flat motorcycle tyres, glass and plastic bottles, aluminium cans, wires, inflatable rubber floats and plastic bags are some of the many items found either washed up or dumped on the beach. You guessed right: rubbish kills both baby and adult turtles, Matthews confirms. These clean-ups are usually arranged by the resort and LTTW, and they welcome an extra pair of hands.
4. Volunteer To Guard Baby Turtles
“Rangers and guardians are always needed to stop poaching activities from happening at Lang Tengah Island,” Matthews says. You’ll also be tasked with keeping an eye out for mother turtles coming up to the beach to lay eggs, protecting the eggs from predators and transferring them to a hatchery. In terms of wages, you’ll be paid between RM800 and RM1,000 for a couple of weeks’ work. But watching the hatchlings break out of their shells and scamper down to the ocean? Priceless.
5. Hydrate Your Skin And Save The Turtles
As mentioned above, 2% of product sales will help ensure a brighter future for Malaysia’s endangered turtles. The KOSÉ Sekkisei lotion is the primary highlight here. It contains coix seed and angelica extract – for optimum hydration and roughness prevention – and white lotus extract – which is rich in amino acids and natural moisturising components – according to Loke. Say goodbye to pigmentation, freckles and visible pores; not turtles.