BLINK. Blink. After a deep, peaceful sleep, he must have felt like he’d just woken up to a circus. Surrounding his temporary home in the bright blue plastic tray are curious humans, pushing at each other to have a closer look. He must have been glad to be hidden under the matching blue blanket as he thought about his escape.
The young Hawksbill turtle, the star attraction on this pleasant morning, is due to be released into the sea after having spent several days at the Gaya Island Resort’s Marine Conservation Centre. He’d found himself trapped in a fisherman’s bubu (fish trap) and was brought here by the fishermen for further action.
The Hawksbill, considered by many to be the most beautiful of all sea turtle species for their colourful shells, is a critically endangered species. Their population has dropped more than 80 per cent in the last century, due to the trade in their exquisite carapace (shell), also known as “tortoiseshell”.
The star Hawksbill regally climbs out of his sanctuary and onto the warmth of the soft sand.
Waiting across from him in the warm, shallow grey-green water, is the resort’s marine biologist Scott Mayback. Zig-zagging his way across the sand, the Hawksbill finally reached his destination, as the waves caress his body, and float him further away from the shore.
“Stay safe, little one,” I mumbled to myself, as I feel my eyes tearing up.
Gaya Island is set within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a group of five islands surrounded by corals off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The Marine Centre is situated on Tavajun Bay, reachable either by a five-minute boat ride from Gaya Island Resort’s jetty or through a 45-minute trek.
The centre was set up in 2013 and has since then, rescued, treated and cared for numerous endangered green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and one critically endangered Hawksbill (Eretmochelysimbricata).
Outside the turtle rescue centre is a 14,000-litre recovery tank for housing sick or injured sea turtles. This recovery tank also holds a coral nursery that will be used to breed coral fragments to be returned to the sea, and help rejuvenate and improve the natural reefs.
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Struggles of our sea turtles.