KOTA KINABALU: Professional divers in Semporna are concerned about the methods used by certain researchers to tag turtles in waters off Mabul Island.
Semporna Professional Divers Association deputy president Dahlan Maizin said the method of using lift bags to bring turtles to the surface for tagging purposes might be harmful to the marine species.
“We saw this method used a few years back and recently, saw some researchers using the same method to tag turtles.
“One of us had taken part in the research a few years ago and took a video of the process,” he said.
It is believed that these researchers are from local higher learning institutes.
“The footage showed a group of divers taking turtles from the water to surface (to be tagged on the boat), using a lift bag,” Dahlan said in a statement Tuesday (May 14).
He gave an example where a person swims to the surface quickly without taking breaks in between, saying this was life threatening due to the effects of drastic change in pressure to bodily functions.
“It could be the same for those turtles that are lifted out of the water in such a quick manner,” he explained.
Dahlan and other dive masters and instructors in Mabul had also recently found dead turtles with rope tied around them, but were unsure whether they were related to research or any illegal capture of the species.
He claimed that regular divers in Mabul also noticed that turtles there fear the presence of human beings.
“I have been diving in Mabul for almost 10 years, and I too notice that turtles at these dive sites are no longer as friendly to divers as they used to be,” he said.
Dahlan said researchers who do their studies at these areas twice a year might not be aware of the behavioural changes of those turtles.
He urged the authorities to look into this matter, and to advise researchers to use suitable methods when dealing with sea creatures in case studies.