The development story continues… unabated. Our persistence here with these issues has created a bit of discomfort, some upset people here; pretty normal but we don’t want it to get in the way of progress.
It would be better if the people living here want to protect the nature for their own reasons. We are going to try some new directions for pushing, and ease off in some other areas.
Our position may be well received and used as a nature gateway, exposing Juara and Tioman as a the natural asset that it is, not just as the popular beachfront tourist destination…. which it also is.
There are many more animal species to look into here, bird migrations, reef study (diving), lizards, snakes, reptiles and vegetation. Study and Research.
Also: For next season, we are looking for intern staff, work-for-trade as they call it, for the length of the season. That means about 6-8 months committed here helping us run these areas or research. March until November +/- . We are as interested in people that can fix an engine as we are in people that are biologist graduates, but we’ll need some of both.
If you or a friend might fit the bill let us know. No pay, but once you get here there are low costs for you.
Development has started on Mentawak Beach. We are concerned (for good reason) that this will end the nesting here, as too much lighting and activity scares turtles from approaching a beach to nest. This can be seen many places around the world, and many (all) other beaches around Tioman.
We did create a more in-depth Situation Report which can be downloaded or viewed here.
The current development is actually planning to be quite turtle friendly. Their land owners briefed them about the turtles before they started building, and the developers have a personal interest in maintaining the nature, so they where receptive to specific turtle information from us.
However what frustrates us is not the individual developers by any means, but the governing bodies. Rules are in place already that would help to regulate development, but the rules are not followed or enforced.
We are currently working with the new developers, the community, TAT (Royal family, Pahang), and the Government to set up some better guidelines. Our goal is to give them the information and let them decide what to do. It is their choice what to do, just like it has so far been their choice not to do anything.
We have some meetings planned, but of course we have been having meeting for the last 6 years as well.
Our idea for good resolutions are all ways to regulate development and have it take the environment into consideration, by: 1) a government regulated beach gazette/ sanction 2) TAT privately patrons the beach and the government land on it 3) Juara community establishes protective guidelines for the beach and the community regulates it themselves.
New development on Mentawak beach has started, with a few resorts almost open. Five new locations are in the works, including one on each side of JTP and a house on the rocks between Mentawak and Juara beaches. Unfortunately not all these resorts and chalets might develop in a turtle-friendly manner, which could spell doom for the Green turtles that nest here. Mentawak could lose the distinction of being the last beach at a Kampung that still receives nesting turtles.
We have assembled a ‘situation report’ about development on Mentawak. Click here to read it. We also have started an online petition calling for turtle-friendly development on Mentawak, which we’ll be delivering to various Malaysian government agencies. You can sign the petition here. Please leave a personalized comment to make your signature more powerful. For more info on the development continue reading below. * All maps on this page can be enlarged by clicking on them.
A variety of things can accompany development: cut and cleared vegetation, more noise and light pollution, and increased nighttime activity on the beach. All of which aren’t good news for sea turtles. We’re working hard right now at JTP to get Mentawak protected and ensure the development is turtle-friendly, meaning vegetation is kept intact or not completely cleared, and noise and light reaching the beach at night is kept to a minimum.
The nesting Green and Hawksbill turtles still visiting Juara, and Tioman in general, are small fractions compared to decades ago. Leatherback and Olive Ridleys turtles are already extinct from Tioman, as is the case in much of Malaysia. In the past, 20-30 beaches around Tioman supported nesting females and now only 4 do. Three of these beaches JTP monitors daily (Mentawak, Penut and Munjur) with the fourth being a turtle-sanctioned beach on the other side of the island (TAT Turtle Sanctuary at Benut). We don’t want Mentawak to become another “X” on the map.
One option for Mentawak is to declare a Temporary Occupation of Land (TOL) on the government’s beach, which would quickly secure the beach’s nesting area. A more permanent solution is for the beach to get sanctioned as a protected nesting area, as is the case on Pulau Redang, Terengganu and the Turtle Islands, Sabah. If sanctioned the land value and tourism attraction would likely increase over time in Juara instead of becoming overdeveloped like so many other beaches already have. The turtles, surrounding ecosystem, Tioman tourism, resorts, business, and local culture could all benefit from making this important investment to protect Juara’s nesting beaches.
The time to act is now to ensure that the nesting females of Mentawak continue to have a home and that the thousands of hatchlings released from this beach over the past 11 years have a beach to nest at in the future.
End of July, got a last minute invitation to an event in Rantau Abang, with the Fisheries Dept. They gave a thank you for our work, and were also looking for all turtle project around Malaysia to contribute to their funds.
Turned out to be the best Govt function Ive ever attended as I met Mr. Wee manager of Gem Island Resort. They run a hatchery at their resort because Turtles nest at the beaches.
Together we had dinner with Prof Eng Chan in China Town Kuala Terengganu. And made plans to visit the resort the next day with Mr Wee, to give some advise on their methods.
Next day went to Gem Island to get a look around and give advice.
Mr Wee and Gem Island Resort were very receptive to getting advice.
They collect eggs from two main beaches, where eggs would be getting collected without their protection.
The eggs go to their hatchery, and when born 2 months later they are put into a pool to grow up for about a week until another they are released…. not the best.
This is where it was suggested they let the babies go right away, so they don’t lose energy in the pool, and don’t mix up their life cycle instincts.
They totally agreed and were glad for the advise, as they had not known any better. It was great they were so open to change even after already operating for 12 years.
After hatching, it’s suggested to release the babies asap from their original nest beach. Again an idea that was agreed to.
Just at the beginning of this month A group from Temasek Polytechnic came out here. Great people, from the Green Interests club. Working with students that want to be here makes all the difference. Anybody can push a bunch of people through a program and activities and never bat an eye, but when the people have an interest in whats going on its always impressive to see the program get tossed as a more natural course takes over. Students give their input and we have/ there is the space for us to develop projects and program together, no pushing (sometimes.. to get ’em out of bed)
In three days Alice Smith school from KL is arriving with a large number of students, for a short time. We’re in a bit of a crunch now to get activities in place, not just activities but something real, that is useful and we need done… and can BE done by a mob of High School kids. It worked out well last year, this year we’re going with brute garden landscaping (terraces) and digging in a new Hatchery… both quite useful.
Finally this year as the nesting season is picking up, Munjor beach appears to be living up to its past reputation with three sets of tracks all in one morning, a welcome sight on our morning patrol.
These tracks actually came from one turtle, Green Turtle, a mother that was looking for a good spot to nest, eventually leaving just one nest for all this walking around!
This is a photo of our beach-front lighting supplies.
The part to this lighting pack that you can’t see.. is that we will go and install the lights for anybody that will let us; including new fixtures, wiring or whatever is needed to make a better situation for the nesting Turtles.
The parts you can see are some low-watt yellow lights and posters. Yellow lights have a long wave-length (almost like red lights) and Sea Turtles have a hard time seeing it, so its less intrusive for beach front lighting.
One of the posters is for inside beach-front chalets, it says “Lights Off! – save energy and turtles” and then explains how the guest can help be Turtle Friendly.
The other poster is to inform guests, so that they know why their resort is using yellow lights.
The nesting season has started and the first nest was collected from Penut Beach, it was a Hawksbill. So we will be awaiting it return in about 14 days form now!
To celebrate the occasion, to have some fun with the Turtles, and for some good food; we supported a celebration BBQ at DJ Corner here in Juara. all invited. We used a digital projector from UWCSEA to show big screen turtle videos all night.