KOTA KINABALU: The appearance of turtles coming ashore at a private hatchery on an island off the east coast Sandakan district has been a pleasant surprise for officials there.
This is the first time green turtles have come ashore during the day to lay their eggs since the Taman Hadiah hatchery in Pulau Libaran was set up three years ago.
The island's honourary wildlife warden Harun Willam said the first egg-laying occurred at about 11am on May 24 when a turtle deposited 80 eggs.
Another turtle came ashore at about 11am on the following day and laid 61 eggs, he said.
“I have not seen any green turtles coming ashore in the day time before. I am not sure why this is happening,” Harun said.
He said Hawksbill turtles laid eggs on the island’s beaches on three occasions nearly a year ago.
Friends of Sea Turtles Research and Education (Foster) adviser James Ahlin said that while it is generally known that sea turtles come ashore and lay eggs at night, the marine creatures have been known to do it during the day as well.
The Taman Hadiah hatchery is part of a turtle conservation programme carried out jointly by Foster and the Sabah Wildlife Department.
The programme includes creating awareness on the conservation of sea turtles, undertaking research projects to better understand the life cycle of sea turtles in the Libaran island area and making research programmes on sea turtles available for international and local students.
Since Foster started work on Pulau Libaran, turtle landings on the island have seen a marked increased while more than 21,600 hatchlings have been released between November 2011 and December last year. These comprise 14,851 green turtles and 6,821 Hawksbill turtles.
Foster president Alexander Yee said they were encouraged by the day-time appearance of the turtles.
“Whether green or Hawksbill turtles, I am just glad they are coming ashore to lay their eggs. We will continue to be on Libaran to protect and conserve our turtles,” he added.
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