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Share the Scuba Spirit! Welcomed Support for Turtles on Mabul Island


Mabul Turtle Hatchery Text and Photo by Scuba Junkie / Icons by www.diveandgo.com


Officially opened during Mabul Marine Week (MMW) 2011 which was held from 24th to 29th September, the Mabul Turtle Hatchery program was established with the objective of increasing the turtle population on Mabul Island. This program, which is set up and sponsored by Scuba Junkie, is a local community program that incorporates partnership between the local Mabul community and the dive operators.


When turtles come to Mabul to lay eggs, they sometimes pick areas which are very near to the local residences and / or too low on the high-tide line which results in low hatching success. In an effort to counter this problem, Scuba Junkie has come up with an incentive program that rewards locals with a 'finders fee' for the finder who reports a nesting turtle.


The Turtle Hatchery will then send a trained Marine Biologist to the nesting area to collect the eggs once the nesting turtle returns to the ocean. The eggs are then relocated to the hatchery. The process of egg relocation involves a very delicate procedure; therefore, only trained professionals are allowed to perform egg relocations.


Once relocated, the species and number of eggs are recorded before a nest of proper depth is dug. Each species of turtle digs at different depths during nesting; hence, having a nest at correct depth is vital. If it's too shallow, the temperature can get too warm for hatching. Likewise, if the nest is dug too deep, the eggs will lack the heat required for hatching.


To maximize hatching success, nest temperature is constantly monitored. In addition to that, the hatchery is also equipped with 24-hour security. For Green Turtles, the pivotal temperature is 29.5 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is slightly higher, the majority of the hatchlings tend to be female. If the temperature is slightly lower, the hatchlings are more likely to be male!


Since 2009, Scuba Junkie has successfully helped release more than 1,000 hatchlings (both Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles) back into the waters surrounding Mabul Island.


According to Director of Scuba Junkie, Richard Owen, who is also a Marine Biologist, “we hope to make this a continuous success for the years to come. For this, we will need the cooperation from the local community, dive operators and tourists. Together we can make a difference.”


The 20ft x 26ft hatchery on the island is able to accommodate up to eight turtle nests at any one time. Turtle eggs take about 60 days to hatch and so far, it has been noted that there are between four and five turtles laying eggs at the Mabul beach every month.


In conjunction with the Mabul Turtle Hatchery Program, Scuba Junkie’s Environmental Officer Rohan Perkins conducts Turtle Awareness presentations on the Island of Mabul every week to both visiting tourists and the local community alike. These very informative presentations showcase the issues that can threaten turtles in the South East Asia region but also what visiting tourists and local communities can do to help look after these very endangered marine species for generations to come.


Aside from the Mabul Turtle Hatchery program, Scuba Junkie also acts as a patron for another project that seeks to protect the shark species around the Semporna waters. For the Shark Protection program, Scuba Junkie has managed to collect more than 1000 signatures on their petition to ban shark finning in the Semporna region.


As diving with the sharks is one of the main highlights that attract dive tourists to Semporna, shark protection, decidedly, should be high on the agenda. In the words of British tourist, Louise Alyson, “I came here to dive with the sharks, so I really hope sharks will be protected before it is too late.”


Join Scuba Junkies Providing a Lifeline for turtles


To take part and find out on how you can make a difference in Turtle Hatchery Programs, Shark Awareness and other community projects, please call telephone numbers +60 89 785372 or +60 019 5846572 (mobile), fax to +60 89 785372 or email to info@scuba-junkie.com


visit Scuba Junkie’s website at http://www.scuba-junkie.com


WILDLIFE WARRIORS


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