KOTA KINABALU: Turtles coming ashore to lay eggs at a private hatchery on an island off the east coast of Sandakan have pleasantly surprised officials there.
It was the first time the green turtles have came ashore to lay eggs during the day since the Taman Hadiah hatchery at Pulau Libaran was set up three years ago.
The island’s honourary wildlife warden Harun Willam said the first time this happened was at about 11am on May 24 when a turtle laid 80 eggs.
Another turtle came ashore at about 11am the next day and laid 61 eggs.
“I have not seen any green turtle coming ashore at daytime before. I am not sure why this is happening,” Harun said.
He said since the hatchery was set up, hawksbill turtles had laid eggs on the island’s beaches on three occasions nearly a year ago.
Foster (Friends of Sea Turtles Research and Education) adviser James Ahlin said while sea turtles tend to come ashore and lay their eggs at night, the marine creatures have been known to do so during the day too.
The Taman Hadiah hatchery is a turtle conservation programme by Foster and the Sabah Wildlife Department.
The programme includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors about the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran island area and to make available research programmes on sea turtles for international and local students.
Since Foster started work on Libaran island, there has been a marked increase in turtle landings. Between November 2011 and December 2015, more than 21,600 turtles hatchlings have been released.
These comprise 14,851 green turtles and 6,821 hawksbill turtles.
Foster president Alexander Yee said they were encouraged by the daytime appearance of the turtles.
“Whether they be green or hawksbill turtles, I am just glad they are coming ashore to lay their eggs. We will continue to be on Pulau Libaran to protect and conserve our turtles,” he added.
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