ASiS INTERNATIONAL ESSAY AND POETRY WRITING COMPETITION -2014
ESSAY WRITING CATEGORY
1st Prize (USD 400.00 and Distinguished Award Certificate) Hanusha Durganaudu , from SMK Convent Father Barre, Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia.
2nd Prize (USD 300.00 and Distinguished Award Certificate ) Sweta Prakash , from Kendriya Vidhyalaya No 2, AFS Tambaram, Chennai, India.
3rd Prize (USD 200.00 and Distinguished Award Certificate) Husna Amni Binti Jalaluddin, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Batu Rakit, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia.
Consolation (USD 150.00 each and Merit Award Certificate)
4. Muhd Nadzmi Bin Muhd Madzlan, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
5. Habibah Binti Zulkifli , from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Batu Rakit, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia.
6. ‘Aina Fitri Binti Mohd Hamidi, from Sekolah Menengah Sains Raja Tun Azlan Shah, Taiping, Perak, Malaysia.
7. Muhammad Adib Bin Alim, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Batu Rakit, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia.
8. Nur Anis Nadia Binti Khairul Nisak, from Sekolah Seri Puteri, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
9. Muhammad Ridhwan Bin Muhammad Nasir, from Sekolah Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, Pekan, Pahang
10. Siti Najeebah Binti Mohd Izani, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Batu Rakit, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia.
Certificate of Participation
11. Kirtanac Genason, from SMK (P) Air Panas, Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
POETRY WRITING CATEGORY
1st Prize (USD 400.00 and Distinguished Award Certificate) Nur Nazlifah Binti Shaiful Annuar, from Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia.
2nd Prize (USD 300.00 and Distinguished Award Certificate ) Muhammad Syazwan Bin Rizuan, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
3rd Prize (USD 200.00 and Distinguished Award Certificate) Izzati Haizan Binti Joseprin, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Consolation (USD 150.00 each and Merit Award Certificate)
4. Nur Hidayah Binti Norazman, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
5. Amreeta Kaur , from SMK Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
6. Cheoh Soon Wueymeii, from SMK Raja Jumaat, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
7. Nadiah Binti Mohd Fauzi, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
8. A’ina Imanina Binti Muhammad Razif, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
9. Kritika Nangia, from Ahlcon International School, Delhi, India.
10. Chloe Hor Yin Yee, from Tenby Schools Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Certificate of Participation
11. Siti Adleena Binti Ali, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
12. Adlan Nafiz Bin Norzeli, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
13. Farah Syahirah Binti Sjamsul, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
14. Chan Rui Ying , from National Junior College, Singapore.
15. Honeysha Mosses , from SMK St. Mary, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
16. Munirah Binti Md Nazar, from SMK Setapak Indah, Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
17. Muhammad Aiman Danish Bin Muhammad Jeffry Cheah, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
18. Shlok Prakash, from Kendriya Vidhyalaya No 2 AFS, Tambaram, Chennai, India.
19. Muhammad Ikmal Hakim Bin Bahari, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
20. Wan Nur Medina Binti Abdul Radzim, from Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
THE PANEL OF JUDGES
ESSAY WRITING CATEGORY
- David Godfrey
Executive Director, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Gainsville, Florida, USA
- Dr. Jeanne A. Mortimer
Courtesy Assistant Professor, Department of Biology,
University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida, USA.
- Liew Hui Ling
Marine Conservation Officer, WWF Malaysia, Semporna Field Office,
Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia
POETRY WRITING CATEGORY
- Cornelius Anuar Abdullah McAfee
Deputy Director, Corporate and International Communications Centre
Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Gong Badak Campus, Kuala Terengganu,
- Rehman Rashid
Journalist and Writer,
Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor, Malaysia.
- Dr. Haji Hamzah Md. Omar
Associate Professor in TESL, School of Education and Social Development,
Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
THE TOP THREE ESSAYS
THE WINNING ESSAY BY HANUSHA DURGANAUDU FROM SMK CONVENT FATHER BARRE, SUNGAI PETANI, KEDAH, MALAYSIA
Turtle are one of our most precious natural heritages that should be conserved and protected. However, the rapid development that is materialising in every nook and corner of this world had undeniably taken its toll on them. Statistics and surveys conducted had clearly shown the steady decline in the number of turtles and nesting sites over the past few decades. And the worst part? This decrease is mainly contributed by the various human activities such as illegal hunting, sea pollution, usage of trawling nets in fishing and so on. Many efforts had been taken to combat this situation, from strong enforcement of laws to the organising of awareness campaigns. But yet, this problem could not be fully resolved. Therefore, it’s time for us to look into the concrete actions that must be taken in order to solve this problem and restore the population of turtles back to normal. From the inculcating of moral values among the younger generation to the imposing of heavier tax on turtle based products, all this moves must be carried out with unwavering dedication, cooperation and accuracy, before it is too late, before the turtles are wiped out from the face of Earth – forever!
It was a fine, cloudless night. The stars peered from a clear sky like myriads of glittering lights as I slowly made my way across the beach, the soft, silky sand crunching beneath my feet. The tall coconut palm danced gracefully to the rhythm of the sea breeze as the gentle waves rolled endlessly towards the shore. Usually, it was not my norm to be out during the night. But this was no ordinary night. It is the first week of May, indicating the start of the nesting season for the leatherback turtles in my village. And so I waited patiently, all the while keeping my fingers crossed.
And then, I heard it, the laboured, cavernous breathing of a giant turtle as it dragged its body across the beach towards its favourite secluded spot. I heaved a sigh of relief. At least, the efforts and the sacrifice of my precious sleeping time were not in vain after all. As the turtle edged nearer, my eyes were greeted with the sight of a dark, gigantic shape of about two metres long. Upon reaching the desired place on the beach, it started to dig a deep hole in the sand to hide its eggs, demonstrating the maternal instinct to protect its offspring. Task accomplished, it began to cover the hole once more with the heap of sands that had accumulated at the side of the holes. By this time, the village was engulfed with total silence and I finally realised that it was time for me to leave. With a heavy heart, I cast one last longing look at the interesting creature that had just taught me the values of love, independence, hard work and peace. Its eyes were deep and serene.
Turtles are a type of reptiles which are mainly characterised by the presence of shell on their backs. In North America, the word ‘turtle’ refers to all reptiles with shell but within this general term, a few land forms are called tortoises while a few water–living ones are known as terrapins. On the other hand, in Britain, ‘turtle’ is used only while referring to the types that live in fresh or sea water. Sea turtles are also commonly referred to as ‘ancient’ creatures as their existence could be traced as far back as 200 million years ago through fossil records. Today, there are seven species of sea turtle which are most recognised by scientists that is the leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley and Australian flatback. Of all this different species, leatherback sea turtle or Dermochelys coriacea is known as the largest as it usually grows to a length of about two metres (seven feet) and a weight of about 540 kilograms. Turtles generally prefer tropic or subtropical temperatures and as such, they could be found along the coast of North America, South America, Central America, Australia, India, South Africa and South East Asia. Moreover, recently there are also sightings of these animals in areas around Europe and in Atlantic Ocean as reported by Canada.
It is a common knowledge in this twenty-first century that turtles are one of our natural heritages which should be conserved and protected. Unfortunately, the rapid development and increase in human population that is occurring in every nook and corner of this world has undoubtedly taken its toll on their existence as well. This is proven by the simple fact that the current level of nesting for the species Kemp’s ridley at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico has decreased to less than one percent of the estimated nests deposited in 1947 while a decline of three percent could also be detected for almost thirty years at Little Cumberland Island, Blackbeard Island and Wassaw Island, Georgia. In Malaysia, there were approximately eleven thousand nests reported in 1950’s but this number has decreased to less than ten by 1999. As such, sea turtles are currently listed as endangered animals by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and today, the biggest challenge that we, the global community are facing is to take proper, effective measures at an immediate rate to restore the population of these turtles back to their original numbers. From my point of view, I perceive this issue as a very serious matter that should not be taken lightly at any cost. This is because the drastic decline in the turtles population is mainly caused by the increase in various human activities such as illegal hunting, poaching, industrial activities, development of beaches for tourism purposes and so on. It is our fault that have lead the turtles to the brink of extinction and thus it is compulsory for us to shoulder the responsibility of saving them from being permanently extinct. Immediate actions must be taken through the collaboration with various parties in order to prevent this phenomenon from worsening. Fail to do so, and we might as well face the prospect of losing one of god’s most unique creations on the face of Earth.
Among the most common dangers faced by turtles nowadays is illegal hunting to obtain their flesh, meat, shell, oil and fat. Flesh and meat of the turtles are commonly used to make turtle soup which is considered as a delicacy in Europe and in countries such as Singapore which possess a high Chinese population. It also serves as a traditional diet for the people in the Land of Grand Cayman. In addition, the shell is also used to make various traditional Chinese medicines such as the Guilinggao jelly which is produced from powdered turtle plastrons. This jelly is believed to be good for the skin apart from helping to improve blood circulation, assist the growth of muscle, relieve itching, reduce acne and restore the kidneys. In Indonesia, the shells are also used to make souvenirs and jewelleries. Moreover, Leatherbacks are also killed to extract the oil from their body. This oil is commonly used to caulk boats in the Persian Gulf and as oil lamps in Papua New Guinea while in the Caribbean, it is used for medicinal purposes. The oil obtained from the internal organ fats of turtles is also applied as the main ingredient in many cosmetic products such as sun blocks, skin creams, soap and nail creams. This situation is further worsened by the fact that turtles had been a subject of great interest among pet lovers in the past decade, indirectly leading to the increase in the hunt for turtles worldwide as the demand for them increases.
Furthermore, sea pollution is another factor which poses great danger to the turtles. In this era of globalisation, more and more beaches are being developed as ports or for tourism purposes. This causes a rise in the number of buildings constructed at the seaside. Although these activities are generally encouraged as it helps to boost the economy of a country, it is done at a very huge cost indeed. This is because most of the developers, especially those who are operating in small scales and are entirely commercial based, tend to overlook the importance of building a proper piping system in order to channel all the waste produced. The same goes for factories which are built along the rivers or sea shores. Thus, in some cases, the untreated and harmful substances are channelled to the sea or other nearby water sources as this method of disposal is much more convenient and cheap. In addition to this, it is also my greatest regret that we, human beings, are not doing much to help the situation either. There are still members of the community who possess an absolute disregard about the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of our sea, beaches, rivers and other water sources. As such, they tend to adopt the habit of throwing waste into the sea or river directly without experiencing any guilty conscience. Some of these rubbishes such as plastic bags and polystyrene are highly dangerous as they are commonly mistaken as food by the turtles. For example, leatherback turtles often mistaken the plastic bags in water as jellyfish, one of their common food. As such, they ingest it and this, in turn, causes blockages in their digestive tract or poisoning which eventually leads to their death. Around tens of thousands of marine creatures including turtles are killed every year due to plastic litter. Besides, sea pollution caused by oil spills from ships also endangers the turtles as these oils usually contain dangerous chemicals which may alter the composition and pollute the sea water. If the discharges occur in very large quantities, the oil will spread over a huge area on the sea surface, thus preventing adequate oxygen from dissolving in the sea water to support the lives of aquatic organisms in it. This will affect the turtles in two ways, directly and indirectly. Among the direct effects is the turtles may face difficulties to resurface and breathe. They may also face mutation or deformities due to continuous exposure towards the polluted waters. This eventually leads to a vast of other problem as deformed and mutated turtles would undeniably face more complications in order to survive, adapt to the changes in their surrounding and thus maintain the continuity of their species. Indirectly, the turtles are also affected as insufficient oxygen dissolved in the sea water will decrease the number of other aquatic organisms such as jellyfish, sponges, algae, seaweed and soft corals that serve as the turtles’ main food source.
Moreover, the usage of trawling nets in fishing activities also affects the turtles as these animals are easily trapped in the huge nets which were originally meant to capture other aquatic animals such as fish, shrimps and squids. Once trapped, they were unable to resurface to breathe and this eventually leads them to their death. It is estimated that each year, thousands of immature and adult sea turtles are accidentally caught, injured or killed by trawlers in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico alone. Besides, in areas which are subjected to intense fishing, a turtle which is caught many times within a few hours could die due to physiological changes caused by stress and forced submergences despite being able to escape from the nets each time. The usage of small nets by shrimpers also contributes towards the drowning of turtles.
Next, the condition of the beach nowadays also plays a huge part in driving the turtles away from their favourite nesting sites. Development activities which are carried near the sea shore results in the construction of new buildings such as ports, hotel, chalets, theme parks and more. These activities alter the landscape of the beaches, making it unfamiliar for the turtles. Improper waste management caused the beach to become a dumping site for the construction wastes along with the rubbishes that were thrown by certain inconsiderate human beings. In Malaysia, the reclaiming of land has also affected the turtles nesting sites as this separates the original habitats, thus altering the general ecosystem in the area. Furthermore, development activities which are carried out at the seaside also results in an increase of human population as more tourists and workers frequent the area. This increase is usually accompanied by noise pollution as there will be more vehicles and machines operating there, not to mention the sounds produced by other human activities such as picnicking and more. Therefore, the turtles would be discouraged from visiting the beaches because they are peaceful animals who become easily stressed when exposed to loud and foreign noises.
Apart from that, turtles also encounter numerous dangers from their natural predators. Turtle eggs are generally hunted by animals such as raccoons, foxes and crabs. Upon hatching, the baby turtles or hatchlings are in even more danger as they scurried across the open beach towards the safety of the waters. This is because they serve as an excellent meal for crabs, sea gulls, birds and a variety of aquatic organisms. Adult turtles, on the other hand, face a constant threat from sharks. In many cases, there have been sightings of turtles with deformed flippers which are suspected to be caused by shark attacks.
In order to overcome all this problems and save the turtles from the face of extinction, all parties such as international organisations, governments, non-governmental organisations in the respective countries, educational establishments and the people must play their role in the most effective and efficient manner. First of all, international organisations such as World Wide Fund for Nature and International Sea Turtle Society should try to involve more countries in their awareness raising activities and projects. This is especially for those countries such as Papua New Guinea, Maldives, Mexico, Australia, India, Malaysia and various more that are gifted with the rare opportunity of being the turtles’ favourite nesting sites. They should also organise campaign on large scales consistently throughout the year so that the community would always be reminded about the importance of preserving turtles. This is precisely where mass media especially the social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter could be used to connect with a wider range of community members especially the younger generations. Activities such as exhibitions and competitions must also be held more frequently with more rewarding prizes. This is very important because through the organisation of competitions such as essay writing and poster drawing competition, the students are propelled to do research and find out more information about turtles. This indirectly raises awareness as they began to learn the importance of preserving these fascinating creatures.
In addition, the Governments of the countries involved must also play their role by enforcing the rules and regulations pertaining to the conservation of turtles in their countries. The sea and beaches must be patrolled regularly to prevent illegal hunting of turtles and poaching of their eggs. The usage of trawling nets without turtle excluder device must be banned in areas which are known to have a huge population of turtles. Appropriate actions such as heavy fines, jail sentences and withdrawal of the permit must be imposed on the violators where necessary. This action must also be taken at an immediate rate so that it could serve as a good warning for the violator and other members of the community. Furthermore, the Government should also take active part in the awareness raising programmes organised by international organisations and encourage the people to do the same by offering attractive incentives such as cash prizes and merits for people who do so.
Moreover, it would be absurd to overlook the role of people in conservation of sea turtles. Countless efforts carried out by various parties to create awareness would be entirely pointless if the society do not possess the will to change their mind-set. They must learn to love and appreciate the flora and fauna in the world around us, especially the very unique and rare species such as the turtles. As such they will never indulge in any activities that might endanger the lives and existence of these animals, thus reducing incidents such as illegal hunting and poaching to a great extent. People who love and appreciate flora and fauna will also regard it as their responsibility to care for the nature. Therefore, they will always be aware of the changes that are happening in their surrounding and work together to solve the negative impacts of it. For example, they will immediately report any cases of sea pollution, illegal hunting and poaching of sea turtles to the authorities so that further action could be taken. They will also be more motivated and willing to take part in activities that are organised for the benefit of nature.
However, it could not be denied that currently, many effective and successful solutions are already being carried out and implemented by various parties in order to conserve and preserve turtles worldwide. Among this include the implementation of laws relating to marine lives or turtles specifically. For example, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ( CITES) controls the international trade involving endangered and threatened species such as the turtles. It prevents improper handling and excessive trading of these animals apart from protecting them from being used for the wrong purposes. In United States of America, turtles are legally protected under Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under this act, the hawksbill, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley and green turtles are listed as endangered animals and therefore it is illegal to harm or kill these turtles, its’ eggs and hatchlings. It is also illegal to transport, sell and import turtles or their products. On the other hand, in Malaysia, marine turtles are protected under the Fisheries Act 1985. This is a federal act that includes protection of aquatic mammals and turtles in its’ terms. Six states in Malaysia, that is Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan also have legislation related to exploitation, licensing for egg collection and possession or killing of sea turtles. In addition, Terengganu Turtle Enactment 1951 (Amendment 1981) is also enforced to protect the safety of turtles’ eggs.
Moreover, apart from law enforcement, various researches and projects have also been carried out to help in the invention of new appliances and devising of new plans to help conserve the turtles. For example, through research, the United States National Marine Fisheries Service managed to develop the Turtle Excluder Device (TED). It is a small trapdoor inside trawling nets which enable the shrimps to pass to the back while the turtles could get away without getting entangled in the net. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have also devised a better method to study the turtles’ movements in the sea by designing a special satellite transmitter known as KIWISAT 101 which could be attached to the body of the turtles. This had greatly helped to reduce the knowledge gaps which had been acting as a huge barrier when it comes to making suitable decisions regarding policy changes on conservation of turtles and so on. Furthermore, other activities such as survey on nesting sites and market assessment were also carried out by the WWF. Among the projects carried out to help conserve the turtles include the ‘Loggerhead Turtle Tracking’ to collect essential information regarding the lifestyle of a leatherback turtle while ‘Environmental Co-Factors and Fibropapillomatosis in Green Turtles’ is another project which is carried out to study the environmental stressors which are related to an infectious disease that threatens the population of Green turtles in Florida, United States. In Malaysia, researches are also conducted on biology and ecology of turtles by Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia.
In addition, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Pacific had also organised many awareness raising campaigns as part of its’ effort to inculcate love and respect for the continuous survival of the sea turtles in the world. Among the activities organised under these campaigns include annual turtle roadshow in schools to raise awareness among school children in the primary and secondary level. In order to raise awareness and funds at the same time, WWF also organises social activities such as the annual black tie Turtle Ball to engage with members of Fiji urban and corporate community. This indirectly helps to conserve the turtles as the corporate society command a huge influence over the coastal communities who have direct access to turtles. Apart from that, WWF-Malaysia had also organised a twelve hour campaign in the state of Terengganu, which houses the largest number of nesting sites in the country. During this campaign, many activities such as futsal competitions and exhibitions were held to increase the awareness on the importance of protecting the endangered species and their nesting sites.
By conserving and protecting the turtles from extinction, we could gain many benefits, both in long term and short term. First of all, we would be able to maintain the balance of the ecosystem from being disrupted. For example, marine turtles, especially the green turtles, are one of the very few species of aquatic organism that feeds on the sea grass and helps to preserve their health by keeping them short. As such, a decline in the population of green turtles would result in lower sea grass beds. This in turn, would lead to a host of other problems such as destruction of habitat for organisms such as shellfish, fish and crustaceans apart from disturbing the natural food chain in the habitat. Moreover, unhatched eggs and trapped hatchling also serve as an excellent nutrient source for dune vegetation, thus improving the health of the entire beach ecosystem.
Apart from that, it is also important for us to conserve the turtles in order to maintain the diversity of organisms on our Earth. Every flora and fauna in the world is special and unique in its own way. For example, the leatherback turtles have a very huge body with leathery shells while the green turtles have a green flesh with shells that have variegated colour. These fascinating creatures have existed on Earth for millions of years but currently they are facing an uncertain future, thanks to us human beings. The extinction of turtles means that there would not be a single organism of the species left in the world to be seen and admired by the future generations. Isn’t that a pity?
Therefore, in order to put a stop to this situation, it is crucial for us to take more concrete actions to combat the dangers posed to the survival of these turtles. First and foremost, a special task force must be set up at the international level in order to enforce the laws on illegal hunting and poaching of turtle worldwide. This task force must have branches in all the countries which are popular nesting sites for turtles. Immediate and appropriate actions must be taken against any parties that were found to have violated these laws regardless of social and political background. Moreover, news regarding the actions taken must also be publicised widely so that it may serve as a good warning and reminder for members of the community.
Next, the government of the countries involved must allocate certain amount of money in their annual budget for the purpose of building more turtle conservatories and to carry out research activities. The usage of modern technology in the conservatories is also encouraged as it enables the breeding of more young turtles apart from providing them with the opportunity of obtaining a better care. On the other hand, research programmes should be carried out in order to find cure for various disease that affects the turtles apart from inventing new fishing methods that are harmless to the turtles but do not affect the catch either.
Furthermore, international and non-governmental organisations can introduce special schemes which enable capable and willing individuals to adopt a turtle by paying for the cost of looking after it. Apart from creating awareness, this activity may also raise funds to support other activities that are carried out by the organisation to conserve turtles. Although this move is already employed by some of the organisation, the existence of such scheme is still unknown to many people worldwide. As such, the members can take initiative to publicise this matter through the help of mass media such as television, radio, Internet and newspapers. By doing so, more people will be encouraged to take part in the scheme. This ‘adopters’ must be constantly informed about the progress of their turtle so that they will feel more involved and confident to join the scheme.
In addition, the government must also monitor the development of turtle based industries closely. The trade of turtle based products such as souvenirs, crafts and cosmetic items must be strictly restricted to certain amount and strong actions must be taken against any traders who had exceeded this limit. The percentage of tax imposed on turtle base products should also be increased in order to discourage prospective buyers. As the number of buyers decreases, the number of entrepreneurs who indulge in the business will also decrease and this, in turn, will reduce the demand for turtles and their eggs.
Apart from that, the role of educational institutions in creating awareness among the younger generation nowadays could not be possibly denied either. Among the moves that could be taken by this institutions include setting up a new ‘Turtle Awareness Society’ as part of their extracurricular programmes. Incentives such as attractive prizes, merit marks, certificate of appreciation or even scholarships should be given to deserving students who had played an active role in conserving and protecting turtles. Moreover, interesting competitions such as blog and graphic poster competition can be organised in order to pull the interest of students are not very keen to join the usual essay writing and poster drawing competitions.
Besides, the community members especially those who are staying near the beaches must take their own initiatives by allocating certain amount of time to attend and indulge in programmes that will benefit the nature. Example of this programmes include beach cleaning activities and roadshows on importance of conserving the turtles. Apart from contributing towards the well-being of Mother Nature, community members who take part in such activities will also be gifted with the opportunity of forming strong, inseparable bond among family members, a gift that could be considered as very rare and valuable nowadays.
In final consideration, if humanity resumes the pace at which it is currently going, we might have to face the prospect of living in an entirely turtle-free world in a matter of few decades. Therefore, in order to prevent this worst-case scenario, it is crucial for all parties involved to step up their efforts of conserving and preserving the turtles so that the population of these fascinating creatures could be restored to normal – so that they could be saved from the brink of extinction.
“Turtle and Tortoise” Children’s Britannica (1988) vol. 18, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., United States
Sea Turtle Habitat
IN SECOND PLACE IS SWETA PRAKASH FROM KENDRIYA VIDHYALAYA NO 2, AFS TAMBARAM, CHENNAI, INDIA.
SUMMARY OF THE ESSAY
I have started the essay with my personal experience and incidence about the sea turtles. Then the basic aim of my essay is to explain the importance of sea turtles to the entire marine ecosystem and also the role of the sea turtles in sustaining the Earth which is surrounded by almost 71% of water. In this regard I have first explained about the various marine species like seabirds, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and fungi. In this section, I have also explained about the threats to the marine ecosystem in general and the step that can be taken to protect the marine ecosystem. Thereafter, I have focused particularly upon the Sea Turtles. In this section I have mentioned about the several species of the sea turtles and the danger upon all these species. Then one by one I have explained about the several threats upon the sea turtles from the various factors like Beach Development, Climate Change, Pollution, etc. Then comes the enormous importance of the sea turtles in maintaining the marine ecosystem and in maintaining the integrity and ecological balance among the marine species. Then, I have explained about the measures that are being taken by different organizations in order to protect the sea turtles, and the measures that are to be taken further in the near future to protect the marine ecosystem. The methodology of my essay is sequential and very easy to understand. I have given my creative ideas on resolving the issue. The reasoning of the essay is logical and with correct facts and figures, wherever required. The main conclusion of my essay is that, if we really want to make difference in our lives, then we need to conserve the sea turtles so that it can sustain the marine ecosystem as well as the blue planet, ‘The Earth’ and for that we need to start now. Finally, I conclude with a wakeup call for all the fellow citizens of the Earth.
The general conception that we may have about the Sea Turtles is that, they are species with the longest life span of about 150 years and that they have a shell at the back to protect themselves at the times of dangers. But, hardly we may try to understand the utility of this small species to the marine ecosystem and to the nature. It was the same with me. But my conception changed totally, when I found a small sea turtle, near my street. It was just of the size of my palm. I was just in my upper primary schooling and not knowing what to do with the small creature I brought it home and kept it on the table, enjoying its beauty. Thereafter, when my parents returned back home, we took the small creature and left it safely near a lake in my city, so that it can lead its independent life in its own way. It was the happiest moment for me. This was how I did my bit to save the Sea Turtle. It was then that I understood the importance of the message given by a sea turtle which goes as; “Swim with the current, Be a good navigator, Stay Calm under Pressure, Be well Travelled, Think long term, and Age gracefully.”
But at this juncture of time, it becomes extremely important to note that, our Marine Heritage and the Sea Turtles, are at a great danger. Although Sea Turtles are an integral part of the marine ecosystem, sea pollution, hunting of adult turtles for the collection of their eggs and shells are at a great threat to their survival. Studies also reveal that, of the seven existing species of the sea turtles four have been identified as critically endangered with another two being classed as vulnerable. The ever increasing demands of the parts the turtles and the people’s fascination towards its collection have brought these species to the brink of extinction.
THE MARINE ECOSYSTEM : THREATS AND CONSERVATION :-
It is a well known fact that the life on the Earth first evolved only in the oceans in the form of a single-celled organism. And over the millions of years, multicellular organisms evolved from these single-celled species. Hence, a large proportion of life on the Earth exists in the ocean, covering almost 71% of the Earth’s surface. Just like any other ecosystem, the marine ecosystem is also self sustaining and self balancing. If the human interruption does not take place, the marine ecosystem can become a natural way of recreation and tourism all over the world. At the very fundamental level, the marine organisms contribute significantly to the oxygen cycle, and are involved in the regulation of the Earth’s Climate. Shorelines are also in the part shaped and are protected by the marine life. Some marine organisms even help to create new land.
The marine ecosystem is also a vast store-house of several species of seabirds, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and fungi. Among these the reptiles such as the terrapins or the sea turtles play a major role to maintain the marine ecosystem, as they can live both on land as well as in the sea. Hence, as the marine ecosystem is of a great importance in maintaining and sustaining the ecological balance on the earth. It becomes extremely important for us to understand the reasons for the threat to the marine heritage and the sea turtles and to sort out the ways to conserve these species.
Threats to the Marine Species :
Although the trade of the marine reptile products like the skins and shells of the sea turtles and the skins of other crocodiles and alligators has been prohibited under the Wild Life Protection Act, but a clandestine trade still continues. Humans are removing the marine life from the oceans at an unsustainable rate, drastically altering the marine ecosystem in the process. At the 2010 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a record number of highly exploited and commercially valuable marine species were proposed for CITES listing in order to provide much needed restrictions on this trade. Among the most profitable and unconscionable trade of marine species is for the marine animal entertainment industry. For instance, Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas and Beluga Whales are highly sought after, being intelligent and trainable.
Hence the Marine life is threatened by the human activities. Almost 90% of the large fishes have been removed from the oceans because of overfishing. As a result of this, in the San Francisco Bay and its surrounding rivers, as reported in San Francisco Chronicle article, Scientists have discovered that “………. More than ninety percent of the original water – dwelling species in those waters have lost at least half of their population.” It is also estimated that, over a quarter of the global marine fisheries catch is incidental, unwanted and discarded. Brutal drive hunts in Japan and the Solomon Islands have supplied cetaceans to dolphin Atriums as far away as China, Turkey, Dubai, Palau and Mexico.
The other threats to the Marine Wildlife include damage and destruction of their fragile habitats and wildlife, by certain fishing activities, dredging of sand and gravel and coastal and offshore construction. Also, disturbances of wildlife, especially on feeding and breeding grounds, by recreational or commercial boat traffic, or noise from offshore construction are among the other threats. Our oceans are now unhealthy and under significant threat from overfishing, pollution and climate change. Overfishing of commercial fish, the introduction of non-native ‘alien’ species, sea pollution from the industry and coastal agriculture, climate changes like the sea level rise, rises in sea temperature and the changes in the acidity of the water are among the other factors which threaten the survival of marine species.
Conservation of Marine Species – Need of the hour :
The conservation of marine species or the marine resources is the need of the hour, as it helps to maintain the ecological balance. It includes the protection and preservation of ecosystem in oceans and seas. The marine conservation focuses on limiting human caused damage to marine ecosystem, restoring the damaged marine ecosystem and preserving vulnerable marine species. It may also include certain scientific principles such as marine biology, oceanography and fisheries science. As the coral reefs are the epicenter for immense amount of biodiversity and are a key player in the survival of the entire ecosystem, the marine conservation is based on the conservation of the coral reefs. They provide various marine animals with food, protection and shelter which keep generations of species alive as well as they provide marine space for eco-tourism which provides economic benefits without harming these species. But the great human impacts are increasingly degrading these species which is especially harmful to the island nations such as Samoa, Indonesia, and the Philippines because many people here depend on the coral reef ecosystems to earn a living and it does not harm these spices too.
There are marine conservation organizations throughout the world that focus on funding conservation efforts, educating the public and stakeholders and lobbying for conservation law and policy. Examples of these organizations are Oceana, The Marine Conservation Institute, Blue Frontier Campaign, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, The Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia, etc. Most of these organizations are non-profitable and they work behind educating the common masses by conducting campaigns, workshops and teaching the people about the utility of these organisms for the survival of human beings.
SEA TURTLES – THE VITAL PART OF MARINE HERITAGE :
Sea turtles are one of the most fascinating creatures in the marine world. Sea turtles have played vital roles in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans for more than 100 million years. These roles range from maintaining productive coral reef ecosystems, which plays an integral role in sustaining the entire marine ecosystem, to transporting essential nutrients from the oceans to beaches and coastal dunes.
At present the major changes have occurred in the oceans because sea turtles have been virtually eliminated from many areas of the globe. Commercial fishing, loss of nesting habitat and climate change are among the human-caused threats pushing sea turtles to the brink of extinction. As the sea turtles population decline, so does their ability to fulfill the vital functions in the ocean function.
At this juncture of time, let’s imagine a scenario – When it is hot with the temperature recorded 55°C; there is moisture in the air and we are losing every drop of water through the skin; we look towards the sky and there are clouds hovering upon our heads, but it seems they will take years to pour down. Really, our condition would be a deplorable one. But by disturbing the Sea turtle population, similar is the situation that we have created to the entire marine ecosystem.
Threats to the Sea Turtles:
At present there are a total of seven existing species of sea turtles. They are: ‘Flashback Sea Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle and Olive Ridley Sea Turtle.’ The point to note here is that, most of the species among these seven species are also endangered and are on the verge of extinction, according to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. In many countries, the trade of sea turtle eggs is a big industry. Moreover in some island nations, the sea turtles are used for the ceremonial purposes. Their shells and skins are also used to make a variety of objects including jewelry, sunglasses, tourist trinkets, instruments and wall hangings. The Hawksbill Sea Turtle is particularly valued for its shell which is used for ornamental purpose. Another reason for the hunting and poaching of the sea turtles is the believe of some culture that the sea turtle eggs are aphrodisiacs. In other culture it is believed that eating them leads to a long life. However there is no scientific basis to this belief.
One of the most significant threats to the sea turtles, now is from by catch due to imprecise fishing methods. Long-lining of the coast has been identified as a major cause of accidental sea turtle death. Sea turtles must surface to breathe. Caught on a fishermen’s net, they are unable to surface and thus drown. In early 2007, almost a thousand sea turtles were killed inadvertently in the Bay of Bengal over the course of a few months after netting. However, some relatively inexpensive changes to the fishing techniques, such as slightly larger hooks and traps from which sea turtles can escape, can drastically cut the mortality rate. Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) have reduced sea turtle by catch in shrimp nets by 97 percent. Another danger comes from the marine debris, especially from abandoned fishing nets in which they can become entangled.
Beach development is another area which threatens sea turtles. Since many sea turtles return to the same beach each time to nest, development of the beach can disrupt the cycle. In some areas, such as the east coast of Florida, conservationists dig up sea turtle eggs and relocate them to fenced nurseries to protect them from beach traffic. Since, hatchlings find their way to the ocean by crawling towards the brightest horizon, they can become disoriented on the developed stretches of coastline. Lightening restrictions can prevent lights from shining on the beach and confusing hatchlings. The black-market of the sea turtle products which is another big issue is also a cause of great concern in the countries like China, the Philippines, India, Indonesia and the coastal nations of Latin America.
Climate change may also cause a threat to sea turtles. Because sea turtles use both marine and terrestrial habits during their life cycles, the affects of climate change are likely to have a devastating impact on these endangered species. With melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, beaches are starting to disappear. As the water level begins to rise, the size of nesting beaches decrease. Stronger storms, predicted as a result of increasing temperatures, will continue to erode coastal habitats. Higher temperatures can adversely affect sea turtle gender ratio. Increasing incubation temperatures results in more number of female turtles, which reduces reproductive opportunities and decreases generic diversity.
Other species threaten sea turtles too. Around the globe, sea turtles and hatchlings alike are victim to natural predators. Crabs, raccons, boars, birds, fish and sharks all play their role in the natural food chain. However, urban development along coast lines has introduced many non-native species that have become invasive predators for sea turtles and other coastal wildlife. Florida itself has one of the most severe invasive species problems in the United States. Domesticated dogs and cats will devour eggs and hatchlings. In many areas, thrash left behind by humans encourages the inland animals to migrate to beaches for food, further increasing sea turtle predators.
Marine pollution can have serious impact on both sea turtles and the food they eat. New research suggests that a disease now killing many sea turtles (fibropapillomas) may be linked to pollution in the oceans and in near-shore waters. When pollution enters the water, it contaminates and kills aquatic plant and animal life that is often food for sea turtles. Oil spills, urban runoff from chemicals, fertilizers and petroleum all contribute to water pollution. Sea Turtles are very vulnerable to these pollution, both because of their tendency to linger on the water’s surface, and because oil can affect them at every stage of their life cycle. Oil can poison the sea turtles upon entering their digestive system.
Although these threats to sea turtles and destruction of their habitats seem almost too big to overcome, there are many things within our control that can be changed. Greater public awareness and support for sea turtle conservation is the first priority. By learning more about sea turtles, their importance to the surroundings and the threats they face, we can help by altering decision-makers when various issues need to be addressed.
Importance of Sea Turtles to the ecosystem:
Now, the question before us is that, what makes sea turtles so important for the integrity of the marine ecosystem? In what way the environment is conserved by conserving the sea turtles?
Sea turtles play a key role in two type of ecosystems that are critical to them as well as to human – oceans and beaches/dunes. In the oceans, sea turtles, especially green sea turtles, are one of very few creatures that eat the sea grass that grows on the sea floor. Sea grass needs to be constantly cut short to help it grow across the sea floor. Sea grass beds provide breeding and development grounds for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. At present even at a diminished population levels, the sea turtles play an important role in maintaining healthy sea grass beds and coral reefs, providing key habitat for other marine life, helping to balance marine food webs and facilitating nutrient cycling from water to land. Equipped with beak-like mouths, Hawksbill Sea Turtles forage on a variety of marine sponges. By doing this, they change the species composition and distribution of sponges in the coral reef ecosystems. Hence, they allow the corals to colonize and grow by removing sponges from the reef.
By supplying a concentrated source of high-quality nutrients, sea turtles improve their nesting beaches. By contributing nutrients to beach ecosystems, sea turtles help to stabilize dunes, and therefore their own nesting habitat. Leatherbacks, the largest of the sea turtles have wide ranging effects on the ocean ecosystem. But they get their energy and nutritional needs from a small, gelatinous source – jellyfish. The repercussion in the population control of jellyfish is a great concern since, as a result of overfishing the abundant fish population is declining, which leaves the jellyfish with less competition for the food and hence resulting in the proliferation of the jellyfish around the world.
The sea turtles carry around bamacles, algae and other similar organisms known as epibionts, and also provide a food source for fish and shrimp. Other organisms, such as sheepshead bream, wrasse, angelfish and barber pole shrimp, establish “cleaning stations” for sea turtles to visit. The Loggerhead Sea Turtles are beneficial for the ocean floor ecosystem. The eggs laid by the sea turtles on the shores help to improve the nesting beach, by dispersing nutrients to small organisms in the beach sand. Also, many marine organisms rely on the sea turtles as a place to call home. These small creatures called “epibionts” attach themselves to solid surfaces in the ocean such as floating debris and sea turtles shell. The sea turtles also offer an oasis to fish and seabirds in the open ocean. Hence, the sea turtles are very much helpful for providing habitat to the other marine species.
In spite of all these benefits of the sea turtles, at present they are a risk of not only ecological balance but also physical extinction.
Steps for the Conservation of Sea turtles:
As the sea turtle population declines, so does their ability to perform vital roles in maintaining the health of the world’s ocean. Death and injury in commercial fisheries, loss of important habitat, pollution and climate change are among the many human-caused threats pushing sea turtles towards extinction. More protective conservation measures are needed to protect sea turtles and rebuild their populations to healthy levels so that they can fulfill the full extent of their historic roles in ocean ecosystems. At historic levels, sea turtles will help to restore the health of our oceans and make them more resilient to further threats. We must reduce the sea turtle interactions and mortalities in commercial fisheries, protect key areas on land and in water, and also pass comprehensive legislation that establishes a system to protect and restore sea turtle population in order to protect and restore the sea turtle populations.
Hence, we know that we have committed several mistakes on our part and to the marine ecosystem by hunting and poaching the sea turtles. So, several actions have already been taken to protect the sea turtles and several actions are yet to be taken to protect the sea turtles. For instance, the conservationists in Mexico and the United States have launched “Don’t Eat Sea Turtles” campaigns in order to reduce the trade in sea turtle products. Some Non-Profit Organizations such as Sea Turtle Conservancy, are spreading the message for protecting the sea through the Social Networking site like Facebook.
Recently, in India the volunteers of the TREE Foundation, found an injured Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, which was washed ashore. So, the turtle was taken on a three month care with assistance from Jean Beasley of Topsail Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, Carolina. Thereafter, when the turtle was found to be fit it was assigned a unique identification number and flipper tag and was again released into the sea. Hence, in a country like India, where a variety of Sea Turtles are not found, this is a step which would encourage people to do all the needful to save the sea turtles.
Injured sea turtles are sometimes rescued and rehabilitated by professional organizations such as Sea Turtles 911 in China, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, The Turtle Hospital in Florida, the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, and the Sea Turtle Organization in South Padre Island, Texas. In September 2007, several Chinese poachers were apprehended off the Turtle Islands in the country’s southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi. The poachers had collected more than a hundred sea turtles, along with 10,000 sea turtle eggs.
The other steps towards conservation of sea turtles in India include the establishment of Turtle Conservation Centers in the central government run institutes such as the Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), which encourage the young minds with technical ideas to save the sea turtles and the marine heritage. Several other business tycoons and film stars are sponsoring the campaigns towards this effort. The major private companies like the ITC Private Ltd., have also been spreading the message among the youths. Even the government is taking several measures to preserve the sea turtles and the marine heritage. Several Non-Government organizations are also taking steps towards saving the marine heritage. The public education and awareness is often cited as an important issue in the conservation of the Marine heritage.
When looking at the global front to safe the marine heritage, public education and awareness is often cited as an important issue in the conservation of sea turtles. Malaysia is a country where a large number of sea turtles exist. So, the Malaysian public is quite well-informed of the status of sea turtles, as an effort of the local media. Other activities such as long-term turtle volunteer programs, turtle camps and other awareness programs conducted by the Fisheries Department, World Wide Fund (WWF) Malaysia and SEATRU, KUSTEM have helped to increase the public awareness on sea turtles. The WWF is also working throughout the globe to save the sea turtles. Also, in order to halt the trade of these species, education as well as appropriate legislation is necessary. At the regional level, some initiatives have been made to develop Regional Marine Conservation Programs. The Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA), a Trans boundary protected area in the Sulu Sea was established in 1996 between Sabah and the Philippines to manage jointly the large marine turtle populations occurring there. The MoU on the ASEAN Sea Turtle Conservation and Protection was signed in 1997 while the MoU on the Conservation and Management of sea turtles and their habitats of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia was concluded in 2001. At the global level, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), serves to curb the trade of sea turtles and their parts.
Even we as individuals can contribute significantly to safe the sea turtles. Thereby as a school student I would suggest that, in all the schools around the globe, a subject concerning to the importance of the sea turtles, should be included in the syllabus of the student, because the survival of sea turtles can lead to the sustainment of the entire marine ecosystem, which can lead to sustain almost 79% of the globe, thus helping to sustain the entire earth. Even the elders, the working professionals and the other people can contribute towards this cause in their own way, because it is the matter of protecting the entire earth.
Thereby, on the horizons of conclusion I would like to remind that “Even the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Hence, now the time is ripe enough to redeem the past and to take every positive step possible to protect the sea turtle, if we want to protect the earth at large. Let’s stop being selfish to fulfill our needs and tastes by destroying the life of the sea turtles and thus, disturbing the entire marine ecosystem. The efforts which are being taken at present would surely help to conserve the sea turtles, as they are really thought provoking. The long term benefits of saving the sea turtles would be that, it would ensure the continued survival of the marine ecosystem. The other concrete actions that I would suggest are stricter rules and regulations for those involving in the hunting and poaching of the sea turtles. The NGOs such as the WWF, TRAFFIC, IUNC should arrange for the speeches, campaigns, and educational programs to educate the people and instill the values and respect for the sea turtles. The sea turtles, the marine ecosystem and the entire Blue Planet, the Earth are something that we owe to ourselves and to our future generation. Hence, we must all join our hands together and come forward for a change, so that a surge of pride enriches us all.
“LET’S MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND PROTECT THE SEA TURTLES AND PRESERVE THE MARINE HERITAGE.”
- Articles from ‘The Hindu’, National Daily.
- Quotations and Slogans from www.brainyquote.com
- “Encyclopedia of World Geography” by Peter Haggett
- WWF – World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwidelife.org
- Education and Programs, www.marinelifestudies.com
- “Biodiversity and its Conservation in India” Sharad Singh Negi
- OCEANA, oceana.org/sea turtles
- “Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia”
- CITES, cites.org
- “Sea Turtle Conservancy”
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikipedia.org
IN THIRD PLACE IS HUSNA AMNI BINTI JALALUDDIN FROM SEKOLAH BERASRAMA PENUH INTEGRASI BATU RAKIT, KUALA TERENGGANU, TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA
Living in the world full of modernizations, pollutions are increasing day by day causing more and more living things threatened. Sea turtles have been a spotlight as they are being pushed nearer and nearer to the brink of extinction. There are only seven species of sea turtles left in the entire world but people do not realize their importance on taking this matter seriously. How can they survive in the ocean where human beings keep ruining it? These sea turtles are a fundamental link in maintaining the marine ecosystem. They help maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years. Turtles have major cultural significance and tourism value. As the person sharing the same earth with them, I behalf of these sea turtles begged the whole world to provide these adorable creatures the best life they deserve to live in. If we do not help them, then who will? If not now, then when?
Sea turtles, a world heritage known all over the world with their unique features of having cracked designed hard shell on their backs and they can live both on land and in water. Amazing! Besides, they can also hide themselves in the shell whenever they are attacked. They weigh a ton and they have outlived the dinosaurs by 65m years. They survived over 100m years, through climate change and asteroid impacts, but they could become extinct in 10 to 20 years unless sufficient international cooperation is mounted to reverse this dramatic decline. There are probably fewer than 1,500 females nesting throughout the Pacific Rim. In the rainforests and the savannahs, and in mangrove swamps and coral reefs, wild things are threatened on such a scale that zoologists now refer to the modern era as a period of mass extinction. Less visibly, ocean-going creatures are also disappearing. Sharks, marine mammals such as dolphins, and even Atlantic cod are at risk from overfishing. But information is hard to come by. Oceans are huge and deep, and scientists can only guess at species numbers.
Turtles, however, come ashore to lay eggs, using the same nesting sites again and again. Researchers can count them as they go out, and as they come back. Sea turtles numbers have declined by 90% in the past 22 years to about 900 in Indonesia, 45 in Mexico, 55 in Costa Rica and two in Malaysia. But extinction need not be inevitable. International cooperation had managed to reverse the decline of another sea turtle called Kemp’s Ridleys. These were reduced to 300 nesting females in the 80s. Then their nesting beaches in Mexico were protected and trawlers were fitted with turtle excluder devices, metal grids that allowed the turtles to slip away instead of being trapped. Last year conservationists counted 6,200 Kemp’s Ridleys.
Conservationists are looking at ways to prevent turtles being snared to the brink of extinction caused by us human beings. They are trying to work out where the turtles go, and when, so they are save from being a by-catch in the fishing line. Sea turtles have been on earth 25 times longer than humans but we are the cause of the decline. We have been here about 4million years; they have been here 100m. Measured in evolutionary terms, leatherbacks are one of the most successful organisms in the sea, but unless things change they are not likely to be here much longer. Who are living on Earth shorter than them but trying to threaten them using our powers as human? We shall not have to.
Have you ever imagine yourself born as sea turtles? Have you ever watch a sea turtle entire adventure yourself? Even the cartoon movies such as Finding Nemo and Sammy’s Adventure cannot duplicate hundred percent what these creatures face all along their life. Let me share you a little piece of perils a sea turtle may face in its life journey.
It was dark in here although I knew that my eyes were wide open. Where was I? I tried to touch my surrounding. Hey! It was so small in here but the walls were so fragile. I pushed and it was cracked. So, I pushed it harder and harder when somehow I saw rays of lights. My vision started to become clear. I sneak outside of the place and I saw quite a number of small creatures with a cracked designed of shell on their back. They had four legs, tiny but strong and I realize that I was the same creature as them. All of them were trying very hard to climb the sandy hills. What were they doing? As I crawled closer to them, they asked me to do the same thing. They told me that there would be something tremendously awesome waiting for me outside the hole. What! I was in a hole. What is out there? I became curious and anxious to know what would be there.
Soon, I put my best foot forward during the climb. It looked easy but believe me, even though I had never climb an Everest mountain, I felt like one when I climbed the sandy hill. The others had successfully got to the top leaving me behind all by myself. I cried, “Hey guys wait for me”, but my small voice did not reach them. It was also dark out there but I can still see with the help of a light from something round and shiny high up in the sky. There were also many sparkling lights around it. All of these are so new to me. I was born in a truly new world. My small body made me hard to climb and I was getting frustrated, so I gave up. I laid down among the round fragile thing that I used to be in it a couple of minutes ago. I sighed all alone. What a lonely moment. Suddenly, a very bright light was shine to me. I heard a cute voice cried, “Daddy, look! There is still one tiny turtle in here. How adorable! Can I keep it?”Well both the giant creatures came to me observe me carefully. The older one take me and the small one tried to hold me she could not. Maybe they are daughter and dad. I was nervous thinking of what would be my destiny in this giant creatures’ hand. Soon, without me myself did not believe this, they released me to the shore. Wow, it was awesome but cold. I thought that this is the place I was belonged to. As I crawled to the wide ocean, I turned around to take a glimpse of my back. The two giant creatures were waving to me with the little one weeping badly. Well, it was a memorable farewell. Thanks to them, I was managed to follow all of my friends.
Every day, my activity is swimming. It was fun though. I ate sea grasses and it tasted tremendously luscious. Yummy! I travelled from an ocean to another, making friends more and more. They were Marlin a clownfish, Dory a Pacific blue tang, Tad a juvenile yellow longnose butterflyfish and Pearl a juvenile flapjack octopus. They call me Squirt and I loved the name so much. There was once a terrible moment for me when suddenly I was caught together with the mackerels. The boat used a large net and unfortunately I was accidentally got myself into the net. Man! It was such a thrilling moment.We was put on the large boat for a long time until all the mackerels were dead. As for me, they put me in a box. It was like a prison. I missed the delicious sea grass I used to eat before. I believe that I would be certainly dead not long after that. When they reach the beach, they took all the fishes somewhere and I tried to escape. It was hard and sneaky but thanks to my eligibility I managed to flee away. I went back to the sea and reminded myself to be more careful next time.
Later, I went back swimming with my new friends. This time the ocean is far filthier then the one I used to live before. It was not comfortable living in here. It was suck! If before the ocean was colorless, this time the water was greenish in color. I hated this so much. I cannot see far. My vision was limited. No wonder there were not so may fish live in here. When I looked to the water surface, I could see boats everywhere. They must be back from catching tons of fish. What were these people were doing? They were ruining my oceanic habitat .As I swam further, I saw baits were everywhere. It was fortunate that I had learned from my besties before that this was all just a trap. If I ate them, then I would be their food. Creepy! Then, I swam even further and out of blue, droplets of oils stopped my motion. I was shocked and wondered what does these things could be? When I looked gain ate the water surface, there was a great oil spills from the boats. This made the water become even filthier. I just could stay any longer in this place, so without any hesitation, I swam to another place.
In the ocean, I grew older from a juvenile to an adult green turtle. I faced many thrilling adventures, and one day, I met my love. Hah, it had been a very long time and this time it was perfect! Her name was Bloom a pretty female green turtle. We met at a nice marine garden with colorful fishes and corals coincidentally. Together we mated and become a happy couple. When it was time, she told me that she had to go back to the shores where she was hatched from to lay eggs there. I was so worried but it must be done as we were turtles. Funny! So, I wished her luck. I tried to recall the time when I was once hatched before. It was a challenging moment. I was scared that if my children would be attacked by the seagulls or maybe even before they could hatch; their eggs would be eaten by the carnivorous human beings. These humans were such bad enemies to us, turtles even though I believe there were still some of them that care for us, like those who had saved my life before. I wished that my children can keep breeding making lots of green turtles generations to the world. As I grew older, and the time had passed so long for me, I passed away. Even though we green turtles can live for a long time up to 170 years, but our chances of us to stay alive is hard as there were lots of things that threatened us. Only a small percentage of us can die naturally and I was glad to be one of them. So, that is how a life of a fortunate sea turtle wrapped up. Can you imagine this type of hardships happening to your child? How awful! Just ponder for a while, think what will happen to those sea turtles which are not this fortunate. How sorrow filled their life.
If the cat have about 40 species, the dog have almost 100 species and the fish have up to thousands species but unfortunately the sea turtles have only seven species. Only seven! Malaysia is fortunate to host four species of marine turtles: Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley turtles. These gentle reptiles of the sea swim great distances and come on land only to nest. They are known for their longevity among local cultures. Sadly, the number of marine turtles in most places has plummeted and some populations are on the brink of extinction.
Talking about the sea turtle species, the leatherback or its scientific name, Dermochelys coriacea is the largest sea turtle and can reach lengths over 6 feet and weights over 2,000 pounds. This sea turtle has jellyfish for their diets. The biggest ever recorded leatherback turtle was a male that reached 256 cm long and weighed 916 kg! The leatherback is the champion of sea turtles: It grows the largest, dives the deepest, and travels the farthest of all sea turtles. These animals are deep divers, and have the ability to dive to over 3,000 feet. The deepest dive ever recorded for a reptile was by a leatherback to a depth of 1,230 meters. Leatherback turtles nest on tropical beaches, but can migrate as far north as Canada during the rest of the year. This turtle’s shell consists of a single piece with 5 ridges, and is distinctive from other turtles that have plated shells. They are easily distinguished by their leathery carapace (shell), unlike other turtles which are hard-shelled, and by their long front flippers. Seven ridges run down the length of their white spotted carapace. Leatherbacks are one of the most migratory of all marine turtles. Although their distribution is wide, numbers of leatherback turtles have seriously declined during the last century as a result of intense egg collection and fisheries by-catch. Globally, leatherback status according to IUCN is listed as Vulnerable, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic) are Critically Endangered. The critically endangered leatherback turtle or Penyu Belimbing to locals is now facing extinction in the whole world. They were listed as endangered in the United States in 1970. Populations have declined in Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad, Tobago, and Papua New Guinea. Leatherbacks are seriously declining at all major nesting beaches throughout the Pacific. The decline is dramatic along the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica and coastal Malaysia. Nesting along the Pacific coast of Mexico declined at an annual rate of 22% over the last 12 years, and the Malaysian population represents 1% of the levels recorded in the 1950s.Rantau Abang, Terengganu used to be the nesting home of one of the seven largest leatherback populations in the world but its population has declined by more than 99% since the 1960s. In contrast, there has been a recent increase in leatherback nesting on the central and south eastern coast of Florida.
Next is the green turtle, Chelonia mydas. The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species. Green turtles are in fact named for the greenish color of their cartilage and fat, not their shells. In the Eastern Pacific, a group of green turtles that have darker shells are called black turtles by the local community. Green turtles are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. The green turtle is large, with a carapace up to 3 feet long. Green turtles weigh up to 350 pounds and their carapace can be many colors, including shades of black, gray, green, brown or yellow. Adult green turtles are the only herbivorous sea turtles. When young, they are carnivorous, but as adults they eat seaweeds and sea grass. The endangered Green turtle, or Penyu Agar to the locals is the most abundant species in Malaysia, it nests in great numbers on the sandy beaches and islands of Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and Perak. Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites. Green turtles are an endangered species around the world, but they still nest in increasing numbers on the east coast of Florida. The green sea turtle was listed in the United States as endangered in 1978. The largest nesting site in the Western Hemisphere is at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, where STC has been running a research program since 1959. While the nesting population may be stable in Suriname, and increasing in Tortuguero, there is insufficient information from other nesting sites to determine a species trend worldwide.
The third sea turtle species found in Malaysia is the Hawksbill turtle, Eretmochelys imbricate. Hawksbills are named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. These turtles have a beautiful tortoiseshell pattern on their carapace. These colored and patterned shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as “tortoiseshell” in markets. Hawksbills are found mainly throughout the world’s tropical oceans, predominantly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to extract them from crevices on the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish. Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds. The hawksbill turtle grows to lengths of 3.5 feet long and weights of up to 180 pounds. The largest population of hawksbills is found in the Turtle Islands of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo with an average of 500-600 nests each season. Malacca’s sandy coastline has the second largest population of hawksbills with 200-300 nests per season while Johor and Terengganu have lower numbers. Due to man’s taste for beautiful jewelry and ornaments, the hawksbill turtles are now critically endangered. The hawksbill turtle’s status in the United States has not changed since it was listed as endangered in 1970. It is a solitary nester, and thus, population trends or estimates are difficult to determine. The decline of nesting populations is accepted by most researchers. In 1983, the only known apparently stable populations were in Yemen, northeastern Australia, the Red Sea, and Oman. Although they are found in U.S. waters, they rarely nest in North America. While hawksbills nest on beaches throughout the Caribbean, they are no longer found anywhere in large numbers.
The last species found in Malaysia is the Olive Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea. The name for this sea turtle is tied to the color of its shell—an olive green hue. They are the smallest of the sea turtles and currently the most abundant. Their vulnerable status comes from the fact that they nest in a very small number of places, and therefore any disturbance to even one nest beach could have huge repercussions on the entire population. They are small, and weigh less than 100 pounds. They are found in tropical regions around the world. They eat mostly invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, rock lobsters, jellyfish, and tunicates, although some eat primarily algae. These migratory turtles or also known as Penyu Lipas often travel thousands of kilometers between feeding and nesting sites. When nesting, females come to shore in colonies of up to a thousand turtles and have mass nesting aggregations (arribadas) on the coasts of Central America and East India. The western North Atlantic (Surinam and adjacent areas) nesting population has declined more than 80 percent since 1967. Declines are also documented for Playa Nancite, Costa Rica; however other nesting populations along the Pacific coast of Mexico and Costa Rica appear stable or increasing. In the Indian Ocean, Gahirmatha located in the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, India supports perhaps the largest nesting population with an average of 398,000 females nesting in a given year. This population continues to be threatened by near shore trawl fisheries. It is very oceanic in the Eastern Pacific and probably elsewhere too. Large arribadas of olive ridleys still occur in Pacific Costa Rica, primarily at Nancite and Ostional and Pacific Mexico at La Escobilla, Oaxaca. Very little is known about these turtles in Malaysia.
Another species of sea turtles is the Loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta. Loggerhead turtles are named for their large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins. Loggerhead turtles can be 3.5 feet long and weigh up to 400 pounds. They feed on crabs, mollusks and jellyfish. They are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles. By catch, the accidental capture of marine animals in fishing gear is a serious problem for loggerhead turtles because they frequently come in contact with fisheries. Loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Israel and Libya. Many of their nesting beaches are under threat from tourism development. Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds. Loggerheads are a reddish-brown turtle that have a very large head. They are the most common turtle that nests in Florida. Of all the sea turtles that nest in the United States, the loggerhead is the one seen most often and is the only sea turtle species listed, in 1978, as endangered. Loggerhead populations in Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Israel, Turkey, Bahamas, Cuba, Greece, Japan, and Panama have been declining. The majority of loggerhead nesting is concentrated in two main areas of the world — at Masirah Island, Oman, in the Middle East and on the coast of the southeastern United States. The Masirah Island’s annual nesting population is about 30,000 females, while up to 25,000 loggerheads nest in the southeast U.S. each year. The majority of nesting in the southeast U.S. takes place on Florida’s Atlantic coast between the inlet at Cape Canaveral and the Sebastian Inlet, especially within the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
Two other species of sea turtle are the Kemp’s Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii and the Flatback Turtle, Natator depressus. Like the Olive Ridley Turtle, the Kemp’s Ridley is the smallest sea turtle. Its length is up to 30 inches and weights of 80-100 pounds they are coastal turtles and found in temperate to sub-tropical waters in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. They prefer to eat benthic organisms such as crabs. Kemp’s ridleys are the most endangered of all sea turtles, listed in the United States as endangered throughout its range in 1970. The only major breeding site of the Kemp’s ridley is on a small strip of beach at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Kemp’s ridleys nest in mass synchronized nestlings called arribadas (Spanish for “arrival”). The arribadas of Kemp’s ridleys occurs at regular intervals between April and June. In 1942, a Mexican architect filmed an estimated 42,000 ridleys nesting at Rancho Nuevo in one day. During 1995, only 1,429 ridley nests were laid at Rancho Nuevo. Recent good news is that the nesting at Rancho Nuevo seems to be increasing with over 7,100 nests recorded in 2004! The increase can be attributed to two primary factors: full protection of nesting females and their nests in Mexico, and the requirement to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawls both in the U.S. and Mexican waters. Meanwhile, Flatback turtles are named for their flattened carapace, which is olive-gray in color. The flatback turtle is only found in Australia and lives in coastal waters. They eat squid, sea cucumbers, soft corals and mollusks. Australian flatbacks are medium size turtles that inhabit coastal coral reef and grassy shallows and are only found in the northern coastal area of Australia and the Gulf of Papua, New Guinea. The shell is very smooth and waxy, and can be easily damaged.
The populations of the sea turtles are decreasing day by day because of thousands reasons. Sea turtles face a variety of dangers, both natural and man-made. Threats accumulate over long periods of time and can occur anywhere in a population’s range. Because sea turtles are highly migratory, localized declines often result from a combination of factors, both domestic and foreign. As long as nesting beaches continue to be lost, marine habitats degraded, and sea turtle fisheries (and by catch) operate at unsustainable rates, population recovery will be difficult to achieve. In the Wider Caribbean Region, a largely unmanaged harvest has spanned centuries. In addition, sea turtles are accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in death to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of turtles each year. Coral reef and sea grass degradation, chemical pollution and marine debris, high density coastal development, and an increase in ocean based tourism are among the many factors that have damaged or eliminated important nesting beaches and feeding areas throughout the Caribbean Sea. International trade in turtle products has also contributed to the demise of some species.
Sea turtles must return to the land to lay their eggs, and many contemporary threats are associated with physical development on or near nesting beaches. For example, artificial lights confuse both adult females and hatchlings, disorienting them and luring them away from sea, making them more vulnerable to predators, dehydration, exhaustion, and an untimely death. Adult turtles can mistakenly move inland after laying egg, and females tend to avoid areas where beachfront lighting is most intense. Turtles also abort nesting attempts more often in lighted areas. Artificial lighting has had profound negative effects on nesting behavior and success.
In addition to lighting, coastal development often creates unnatural cycles of beach erosion, reducing potential nesting habitat through shoreline armoring, building permanent structures on the beach, and the removing of native vegetation. Beach restoration and nourishment are sometimes executed to combat erosion. Beach nourishment is the practice of adding sand onto a beach to rebuild what has been lost through erosion. Beach nourishment affects turtles by direct burial of nests or by disturbing nesting activity during the nesting season. Heavy equipment on beaches can pack the sand, making it impossible for turtles to dig proper nests. For example, significant reductions in loggerhead nesting success have been documented on severely compacted nourished beaches, and probably affect leatherbacks as well. In bringing foreign sediments to the shore, however, beach nourishment can compact the surface of the sand, disturb or bury incubating eggs, and alter sand composition and temperature, potentially skewing the sex ratio of the hatchlings (hatchling gender is largely determined by the temperature at which the eggs incubate: warmer temperatures favor females, while cooler temperatures favor males.)
Obstructions (e.g., beach chairs, umbrellas, sailboats) left on the beach can prevent sea turtles from finding suitable nesting habitat and, later, fatally hinder hatchlings from finding their way to the sea. Beach driving and the mechanical cleaning of beaches can crush incubating eggs and tire ruts trap hatchlings as they crawl across the beach to the sea. Beach sand mining scars the terrain, accelerates erosion, and degrades or destroys stabilizing beach vegetation by extraction or saltwater inundation. The loss of sandy beaches to mining not only reduces the reproductive success of sea turtles, but endangers beachfront property and has serious economic implications for locally vital industries such as fishing and coast based tourism.
Beach litter can entangle or trap emerging hatchlings, preventing them from reaching the sea. The smell of garbage draws non-native predators such as dogs, raccoons, rats, and mongoose that eat eggs and hatchlings. Natural predators, including ants, vultures, crabs, and so on, also take a toll. Once at sea, predatory birds and fish prey on hatchlings and larger sharks and other predatory fish (and sea mammals like Orca whales) prey on juveniles and adults. We humans are terribly irresponsible when it comes to garbage thrown into the ocean or allowed to find its way there through neglect. This has numerous effects on the marine environment, but one particularly gruesome aspect of this problem is the ingestion of marine debris by turtles. It is widely assumed–and available evidence supports this theory–that hatchling turtles spend their “lost years” drifting with sargassum and other sea grasses. Unfortunately, drifting garbage collects in the same places as the seaweeds do. Young turtles inevitably attempt to eat some of this material, with devastating consequences. Plastic resembles food closely enough to fool even a mature turtle. Ingested plastic is not only toxic; it also obstructs the stomach and prevents the turtle from receiving nutrition from real food. This can often lead to a lingering death.
Turtle eggs are particularly vulnerable to predators. Many animals seem to be aware of the nesting cycle of marine turtles, and eagerly gather to ravish nests once the turtles have made them. For example, raccoons have been known to destroy as much as 90% of all nests on a beach. The threat does not end when the egg is hatched. Hatchlings must escape the clutches of animals such as foxes and gulls as they try to reach the water, and even when they reaches the ocean, predators such as sharks await them. Of course, the most dangerous predator of all is Homo sapiens. Unfortunately for sea turtles, their eggs are still considered highly desirable for a number of reasons. For example, turtle eggs are supposed to be superior to chicken eggs for use in baking. The theft of turtle eggs continues to be a serious problem everywhere turtles nest, including within the United States.
In addition to predatory animals, fishes and sea mammals, turtles face man-induced threats far from shore. Large quantities of marine debris are found in the ocean: plastic can block the stomach and hinder buoyancy and respiration, and sea turtles can die from eating plastic bags mistaken for jellyfish. Dredging, indiscriminate anchoring, blasting and chemical fishing also contribute to sea turtle mortality.
Pollution from industrial, residential and agricultural operations and the dumping of untreated or under-treated sewage directly into the sea harms sea turtles and their habitats. The addition of organic pollution, nutrients, and sediments encourages algal growth while negatively affecting sea grass beds and coral reefs, both critical habitats for endangered sea turtles. Oil spills can be lethal to sea turtles (crude oil significantly affects the skin, some aspects of blood chemistry and composition, respiration, and salt gland function) – and eggs can also be affected when oil and tar contaminate nesting beaches.
Various diseases and parasites affect the health of sea turtles. Fibropapilloma tumors, certain species of encrusting barnacles, blood flukes and roundworms can all cause harm to sea turtles. Fungi and bacteria sometimes invade nests, lowering the probability that the eggs will hatch. Invading plant roots, especially from creeping beach vines, can also engulf and destroy incubating nests. Fibropapilloma tumors (FP) are lobe-shaped tumors that can infect all soft portions of a turtle’s body. Tumors grow primarily on the skin, but they can also appear between scales and scutes, in the mouth, on the eyes, and on internal organs. These tumors often increase in size and number until the turtle is seriously debilitated. Death is a common outcome. While there have been isolated reports of FP in turtles that date back as far as the 1930s, it was only in the early 80s that the disease began to reach epidemic proportions. For unknown reasons, FP began infecting green turtles in large numbers simultaneously in several geographically discrete areas, such as Hawaii, Florida, and Australia. By the mid-90s, the single greatest threat to the green turtle was FP. While much research has been and continues to be done to find the causes and remedies for FP, there is a new and alarming development. Fibropapilloma tumors are starting to show up on other sea turtle species in increasing numbers! If the same pattern of infection occurs as was seen with green turtles, it will not be long before FP outstrips even Homo sapiens as the single greatest threat to marine turtles.
In order to prevent and even better to stop the extinction of sea turtles worldwide, many people had taken parts all over the world. International organizations such as World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), Wildlife Trade monitoring Network (TRAFFIC), legislators all over the world not excluded the law enforcement agencies in all countries and non-governmental organizations work hard all day long to stop the sea turtles from being pushed to the brink of extinction. To save leatherback turtles from extinction, scientists say the most important step is to place an immediate ban on long-line and gillnet fishing until alternate, turtle-safe methods can be developed. This is not an easy task, said Todd Steiner, director of the Save the Leatherback Campaign for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project in San Francisco, California. Turtle excluder devices developed for trawl net fishing fleets allowed the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle to recover from the brink of extinction in the 1980s. But no such technology presently exists for longline fishing. The world’s appetite for swordfish has a significant impact on leatherback turtle populations. According the Pew Charitable Trusts study, longlines set out to catch swordfish are ten times more likely to entangle a leatherback than a longline set for tuna. Steiner’s Save the Leatherback Campaign is actively targeting supermarkets in California to post warnings about the high level of mercury found in swordfish, which he says is much higher than the levels advised as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, the scientists are asking that all beaches where leatherback sea turtles are known to nest and lay eggs be protected and all egg harvesting be banned.”Things are dire for the leatherbacks in the Pacific right now,” said Steiner. “We need to do everything at once.”
In the Caribbean, the government is collaborating with each other to succeed in preventing sea turtle extinction by making conventions globally. In addition to national conservation legislation, Caribbean sea turtles benefit from a number of agreements negotiated between and among nations. United nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea, International Convention For The Prevention Of Pollution From Shipping, and Convention on Wetlands of International Importance are some of the conventions done in Caribbean done to enforce the law there so that the sea turtles get to live the way they should be instead of being threatened by us human being all over the world. The majority (30/43 = 69.8%) of nations and territories in the Wider Caribbean Region fully protect locally occurring sea turtles, while 13 operate under regulatory regimes that leave one or more species seasonally subject to exploitation (Dow et al. 2007).The ‘patchwork’ approach is less than ideal for species, such as sea turtles, that are migratory at all life stages. The legal framework protecting sea turtles should be consistent among range States; similarly, habitat protection policies should be geographically inclusive at the population level and embrace both nesting and foraging grounds in order to achieve conservation goals.
Legal fisheries typically mandate minimum size limits (by weight or shell length) – targeting large juveniles and adults in contradistinction to the best available science on population recovery. Frazer (1989) used the concept of reproductive value – a measure of the value to the population of an individual female turtle of a particular age – to emphasize the critical importance of ensuring that large turtles be protected, and noted that the regulatory framework in the WCR had been focusing sea turtle fisheries “incorrectly for over 350 years”. More contemporary mathematical treatments have only reinforced the conclusion that protecting large juvenile and adult turtles from exploitation is an essential component of any sustainable sea turtle management regime.
One way done by the WWF is addressing overharvesting and illegal trade of sea turtles and their eggs. WWF works with local communities to reduce turtle harvesting and egg collection. Because exploitation of turtles is often driven by a lack of economic choices, we help develop alternative livelihoods so that local people are no longer dependent on turtle products for income. WWF also supports programs that promote the value of sea turtles. WWF works through TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, to stop the illegal trade of turtle meat and eggs. We also train and equip local rangers to patrol turtle nesting beaches and protect against poaching.WWF has been supporting a campaign led by TRAFFIC to combat illegal trade from the Coral Triangle and reduce demand in China. Activities include better training for law enforcement officials in both areas and a public awareness campaign in China, targeting areas where turtle trade is the highest. Radio broadcasts and advocacy events spread the message among local fishermen, souvenir shop owners and tourists about the problem of turtle trade. In the western Solomon Islands, WWF supports local rangers on the beaches throughout turtle nesting and hatching seasons to protect against egg harvesting and hunting. The rangers collect important data and inform their communities about laws to protect turtles.
Another way is by protecting sea turtle habitat. WWF works around the world to establish marine protected areas, ensuring sea turtles have a safe place to nest, feed and migrate freely. We encourage governments to strengthen legislation on, and provide funding for, sea turtle protection. WWF supports local turtle conservationists in many parts of the world to monitor and patrol turtle nests. These efforts often lead to ecotourism opportunities and offer alternative livelihoods. The WWF also minimize the climate change impacts by studying how sea turtles are being affected by climate change and helps determine the best ways to reduce their vulnerability to changing environmental conditions. We work around the world with communities to monitor and protect nesting beaches, helping turtles be more resilient to the future impacts of climate change. In the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean we work to raise awareness of the threat of sea level rise on nest sites and the importance of shade for nests.
Just like the Sea Turtle Sanctuary in Malaysia is doing, the WWF also use satellite tracking. Satellite telemetry allows researchers to track sea turtles as they swim from place to place. These satellite tags do not harm the turtles in any way and are designed to eventually fall off. The data will tell us where important feeding areas are, help us understand migration patterns, and anticipate where turtles may come in contact with fisheries and their gear. Sea turtles are mostly pushed to the brink of extinction because of by catch where fishers are trying to catch fish but instead the sea turtles are caught by them. In order to eliminate this by-catch, WWF works with fisheries to switch to more turtle-friendly fishing hooks (“circle” hooks). We advocate for the use of special turtle excluder devices in nets. WWF runs an international competition, known as Smart Gear, to attract creative new ways to solve by-catch problems and to advance the best of those ideas. Winning devices have been designed to minimize the by-catch of turtles on tuna long-lines and help turtles avoid gillnets. We track turtle movements using satellites to help prevent future interactions between fisheries and turtles and work with fishermen to help them save turtles caught in fishing gear.
As the person sharing the world with these sea turtles, we also have to help to prevent them from extinction. This is what good community is supposed to do. A tooth is for a tooth, what you give you get back. That is how things work. So, we have to realize this matter and work hard to stop this big matter. Even though we do not have the power to stop extinction, there are still small things we can do to help out the big problems of these sea turtles. One of them is by turning out lights visible from the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings use light and reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night. Artificial lighting confuses the hatchlings and causes them to head inland instead of out to sea – putting them in dangerous situations which can lead to death. Artificial lights also discourage adult females from nesting on the beach. Short of turning off your lights, you can also take measures to shield, redirect and lower the intensity of the lights on your property.
Next is by reducing the amount of garbage you produce and clean up trash you see on the beach. Sea turtles can become tangled in plastic and trash both on the shore and in the water. Discarded items such as fishing lines, balloons and plastic bags may also be confused for food and eaten by sea turtles, often resulting in injury or death. In addition, we must be aware of sea turtle nesting areas and avoid nesting and hatching turtles. Sea turtles are cute, and therefore tempting to touch and observe – but flashlights and people disturb turtles when they are nesting, or trying to nest, on the beach. Make sure to give nesting areas plenty of space, and do not disturb females as they emerge from the ocean looking for a place to nest. Also be conscious of where nesting areas are so that you can avoid trampling the hatchlings as they head to the water. Plus, we must reduce the amount of chemicals we use. The chemicals you use on your lawn and in your home can actually wash into the coastal waters – killing plants and animals. It is very important to properly dispose of toxic chemicals and, even better, find alternative products such as biodegradable solutions. Lastly, organize a clean-up day with your friends and clear the beach of litter, give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save sea turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger. Do not forget to always prevent ourselves from buying materials made from turtles such as guitars, ashtrays, jewelry and also their eggs.
In a nutshell, sea turtles nowadays are badly menaced by us human beings and it is our responsibility to conserve them. As for me, I believe in myself and I will work harder to instill the love of nature to the world. The sea turtles cannot cope up with this situation for a long time and I wished that the world can open up every eye to ensure that this living creatures stay in our world and do not disappear into thin air.
- Stephanie Lisa Tara’s Turtle Book – Stephanie Lisa Tara
- Conserving Sea Turtles – N. Mrosovsky
- Voyage of A Sea Turtle – Carl Safina
- A True Book of Sea Turtles – Emile U. Lephithien
THE TOP THREE POEMS
THE WINNING POEM BY NUR NAZLIFAH BINTI SHAIFUL ANNUAR FROM MAKTAB RENDAH SAINS MARA, LANGKAWI, KEDAH, MALAYSIA
The zephyr surged wildly in the ebony sky
The moonlight as if shy to show its light
Emitting its glow on the white beach
As far as my view could bring me
I saw a colossal mother turtle
Struggling to hoist herself up
Covering her gems in the sand
While she herself could not
Contain the unshed tears
She had been keeping deep in her charred soul
That her babies would not live that long
My heart palpitated in gloom and fear
Those hands of the inhumane
Voraciously gobbling the eggs
Leaving them cold and breathless
The mother stood there, stupefied
Realizing the fact that
She was unable to do anything
Solemnity enveloped her
She scrambled back into the sea in woe
As slowly as her used feet could
The reality sank in
When the dawn greeted the Earth
No more new babies could be seen
The gem hole was unburied
Showing the true side of us
My orbs danced with fire
My will power burned greatly
Put this into a halt
No more breathe to be taken away
No more soul to be snatched away
No more gem to be stolen away
And we shall welcome
The new sunrise on the far away horizon
With a beam in our faces and hearts
IN SECOND PLACE IS MUHAMMAD SYAZWAN BIN RIZUAN FROM SEKOLAH BERASRAMA PENUH INTEGRASI GOMBAK, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Why Oh Why ???
We hatched from eggs,
Soft yet firm,
Onto the sand we landed,
Trying to out our way,
To the ocean’s sea bed.
We skedaddled out way slowly.
Creeping on our flippers
Slowly, avoiding danger
Just a heartbeat away from the tide,
Monsters swung their claws grabbing my brothers and sisters
With all my might I made my way onto the sea bed
Pulled back and forth by the ocean’s tide.
As I began my adventure.
Through wonders of the sea, I passed gleefully,
With fear and fright buried deep down inside
I avoided the terrors and went on with life,
I landed on the beach, where there were many of me.
Just different in size, color and type.
But all lay peacefully under the sun’s glowing might
As the sun set, I began to rest.
As midnight came, a glowing light burned my eyes.
Though it wasn’t the moon’s grace however
It was man who flashed their light looking for preys
Man, who took away my people,
Screams and cries of terror,
Fear rose up and I quickly dashed to the sea,
Luckily the tide was on my side,
Pulling me back to the sea.
I swam as fast as I could,
I got further away from the island,
And thought I was in a safe zone.
Out of the blue,
I came across something thick,
It was dark, black and empty,
It was warm, it was oil.
It was scattered far
I swam as fast as I could
But there was no end.
It was gushing and getting darker by the second
Little did I know,
Luck wasn’t on my side,
I got stuck in something,
Choking me as I struggle my way
I screamed for help, I screamed in terror
But no one came, no one heard.
I lost sight, I lost consciousness.
I lost everything.
Why? Why? Why?
What have I ever done wrong?
Why are humans cruel towards my kind?
You robbed us of our lives
You robbed us of our freedom
You robbed us of our right.
Is this fair?
Is this your plan of evolution?
My babies now have no mother.
My children now have no future.
My kind now have no saviour.
We are a dying breed
On the brink of extinction
And it’s all because of
IN THIRD PLACE IS IZZATI HAIZAN BINTI JOSEPRIN FROM SEKOLAH BERASRAMA PENUH INTEGRASI GOMBAK, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Sun is getting to the est end,
It’s getting darker time to time,
The leatherback struggling against the waves,
Swimming towards the sandy white beach,
To ensure their generation prolonged.
She crawled up to an area of warm sandy beach,
Alone without accompanied by her man,
Excavates a depression by her front flippers,
And slowly digs a small but fit chamber,
For her tiny white eggs to place.
She left her most precious assets and back again to the ocean,
But she never know many threats facing her and her incoming babies,
Both on the wide ocean and on land,
Habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear,
Causing the marine ecosystem distraction.
Without thinking on the their life,
People had overharvesting of their eggs,
Man hunting adult turtles for their meat and shells,
Juvenils trapped in shrimp trawl net, on longline hooks and in fishing gillnets,
Poor them to be one of threaten creatures.
Wake up people!
Come and rescue the poor sea turtles,
They have the right to live,
To travel and play in the wide blue ocean,
And to live freely from any threats.
Wake up people!
Open up your eyes,
Open your heart,
Have pity on them
The green creatures,
That no longer might be disappearing from our Earth.