KOTA KINABALU: A turtle hatchery at Pulau Mabul near the diving haven of Sipadan is celebrating a milestone with the release of the 5,000th batch of hatchlings recently.
The eggs were collected from 66 turtle nests and brought to the hatchery run by dive operator Scuba Junkie and the Sabah Wildlife Department.
Wildlife Department officer Mohd Soffian Abu Bakar said the hatchery’s milestone was remarkable, given the declining numbers of sea turtles worldwide.
“Pulau Mabul is known for the abundance of turtles seen by divers and snorkellers, even though green turtles are listed as endangered and hawksbill turtles as critically endangered on the IUCN (International Union on Conservation of Nature) Redlist.
“The fact that so many hatchlings have been released from this one hatchery is a great boost for turtle conservation and illustrates how important this area is for sea turtles,” Mohd Soffian added.
He said the hatchery programme was an example of government, business and local communities working together to safeguard the Semporna sea turtle populations.
Scuba Junkie currently has three honorary wildlife wardens (HWWs) trained by the department to safeguard endangered species such as sea turtles.
On Pulau Mabul, if a nesting turtle is discovered, the HWWs are contacted to relocate the nest to the hatchery and after about two months, the hatchlings are released into the sea.
The person who notifies Scuba Junkie of the nesting turtle is given a reward of RM1,000 per nest to encourage the local community to effectively act as rangers on the island.
“It is mutually beneficial for turtle conservation and the local community who are rewarded for their efforts in aiding the conservation programme,” Mohd Soffian said.
In addition, a recent nest within the grounds of SK Mabul prompted Scuba Junkie to make a separate RM1,000 donation to the school to help support marine conservation education for the pupils.