Sea Turtle Conservation, Research, Education, and Involvement
On the 16th of February late in the afternoon, large balls of crude oil could be seen rolling in on the waves. Solidified oil washed up on Mentawak beach through the night but the full extent of this environmental catastrophe was only visible the following morning. Mentawak beach in Juara Bay was hit hardest. This beautiful beach is used by local families, tourists and is one of the last known refuges for our nesting Green and Hawksbill turtles on Tioman.
Resort owners along the beach were out in full force. JTP and Little Planet assembled staff, volunteers and locals who were all eager to help keep our beaches safe and clean! Alvin from Reef Check was contacted and he immediately alerted the Marine Park officials and Tekek Town Council. Help was on the way!
The clean up team spent a grueling day in 40 degree heat moving the oil by hand into big piles which we transferred to wheelbarrows and dragged through the thick sand to relocate near the road. Juara Lagoon Resort unfortunately received the bulk of oil. Little Planet staff played a major role in the days to come, toiling through the next week collecting and moving the oil. From this area alone 700 cement bags were filled each weighing around 50kg!
We were left with a big question…..what do we do with the oil?!
The solution came from Juara Headman, Razib. Thanks to Razib working closely with the authorities and for organising a JCB to move all 700 bags to a pontoon boat. On the 11th March the oil was taken to the mainland to be disposed of by the Malaysian Government.
This is not the end of the story, this catastrophe highlights a need for deeper understanding of oil spill mechanics. Where did this crude oil come from? And how much still remains in the sea? There was no news of sunken liners or accidents so we can only assume it was irresponsible dumping. Industrial liners run on crude oil and sadly the leftover poor quality oil that resides in the bottom just gets dumped overboard causing havoc to local marine ecosystems. Will we ever know which liner was responsible? Or will justice ever be sought. Unfortunately it is unlikely.
Our hope here at Juara Turtle Project – with the support and companionship of the local community, local authorities and resort owners – is to have an oil spill initiative where there is a response team set up with all the resources required to clean up and dispose of waste. Support is needed from relevant government officials. Oil needs to be removed in days, not weeks. We need to put an end to irresponsible oil dumping. This is the very least we can do for the beautiful planet we live on. We live in hope that one day we as a species can learn to respect our home without destroying it.
So, we have arranged with a vet clinic to come and spay cats here for a few days! If you have been here, or to Asia in general, you probably have experienced A LOT of cats and know what we are dealing with, it never seems to end!
We will be getting the vets here and accommodating them, they will be working for free… and we are fundraising for anesthetics, painkillers, and additional kitty medications. So please help out and donate! Thank you.
Too many cats turn them from being a nice domestic animal into being a pest that people will be angry with and probably mistreat. Plus they will become mangy messes overrunning the dumpsters, cafes and eating all the local wildlife… not a good scene.. we’ll try to control the situation before it gets out of hand, with your help please.
It is very unfortunate to report that Jo has gone missing.
We immediately started searching from the beach and jetty, but could only start searching by boat after the third day because of bad monsoon waves, so even if we had been able to get on the water it would have been nearly impossible to see any occurrence of Jo coming up to breathe..
We searched for about 1 week by kayaking and speed boat around Juara Bay. On the 7th day somebody informed us about seeing weirdly behaving turtle by Chebeh, a small island north of Tioman. We went by speed boat and spent the afternoon searching but the weather was not good either and we found nothing.
Then we received another tip that some people fishing had seen a turtle by Renggis Island in front of Berjaya Resort, Tioman. We went by speedboat to search but again found nothing.
So now after almost three weeks we have decided to stop searching.
Jo is bigger and stronger now so maybe predators wont disturb her but she is still incapable of finding her own food.
Very sad news, we will keep updated on any events.
We are also working with Reef Check Malaysia to monitor for any coral reef bleaching that occurs. Together we are doing this, with others, by weekly monitoring a few test areas around Tioman. We are monitoring locations on this East Coast. No significant bleaching has occurred yet, but this survey is important to provide a base line for reference if there are any bleaching events in the future.
We were called by the Bagus Place resort manager to come and attend to a sick young Hawksbill turtle that was found floating near their jetty. The turtle was actually first spotted by some guest who had previously been volunteers here at JTP.
The turtle was floating with a large amount of algae on it, meaning it had been inactive for some time already, often in these cases there is a buoyancy issue with the turtle so they cannot dive for food, and become fatigued and starved.
We referred to turtle care manuals, and to the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia’s Prof Eng Chan, and Ms Pelf for advice. After feeding the turtle with a squid smoothie and re-hydrating water for almost a week and seeing no improvement in health, we checked again with TCS about the best next step. We decided it best to release the poor turtle back into deep water about 2k from the shore, where if it survives it will be properly located in the off-shore currents.