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Turtles, oil spills and beach events at the Perhentian Islands

*A story written by Ramona Pförtner, sea turtle lover and expert!*

Ramona blog pic 1Now being here on Perhentian Islands for about one month and I’m still excited for the beautiful landscape, the warmly people and of course the amazing turtles we are working with daily. But even in paradise are some sad moments. Unfortunately, on 5th April we found a dead turtle in front of the jetty in the Kampung. It was a male and so huge that we guessed his age was about 50 years. It was the first dead turtle this season. We don’t know what happened and couldn’t find any injuries. Maybe the turtle died naturally of old age. We took a sample of the flipper to investigate the potential cause of his death and after that we buried the turtle at the beach.

Ramona blog pic 2A couple of days later on the 8th of April another sad thing happened: there was a big oil spill at the beach of Bubbles and we went there to help them clean. A total of 936 kg of tar was manually collected in garbage bags (80 bags of crude oil, 15 kg each). Next day, there was an oil spill at Teluk Keke which we cleaned as well. The boats released oil in the open sea and during monsoon or strong current it is washed away to the shore. Every year oil from the open sea is washed up on the beaches of Perhentian Besar Island before reaching Perhentian Kecil, which is hidden behind the bigger island. The cleaning up has to be done before the sun rises to avoid having the tar melt into the sand making the job even harder.

Ramona blog pic 3But there was also good news in April! On the 10th my teammate Joel, our volunteers Kinsey and Elliot and me saw the first turtle nesting at Tiga Ruang during our night patrol. It was so amazing seeing the turtle laying her eggs in the sand, measuring her carapace and taking photos of her for photo identification. We found her at 0:25 am, she layed 105 eggs and submerged to the sea at 1:35 am.

Ramona blog pic 4On 19th April we finished the huts at Tiga Ruang and Connaugh and me had the first dinner watching the sunset. We can now stay there on ratation for a couple of nights so that every team stays there for three or four nights to assist the fishery department in patrolling the beach, digging for the eggs and collecting data to identify the nesting turtles.

Ramona blog pic 5.pngOn April 30th, we were assisting the Nomad Nation with their annual festival at Teluk Keke. We did an awareness campaign about sea rules and how to behave in the water when there are turtles, fish, corals, etc. Of course we told all visitors how awesome turtles are. Furthermore, we had some games like guessing the number of turtle eggs (of course just table tennis balls looking like turtle eggs) in a glass where the person with the right answer won an Ecoteer shirt. The weather was perfect, the sun was shining and the water activities like human launcher so much fun, that there was a great atmosphere. It was an amazing day and we thank the Nomad Nation for joining the event.