Sea Turtle Conservation in Colorado
Malaysia’s conservation and environmental education efforts.
In the following paragraphs, Aleris writes about her love for turtles and nature:
In 2012, I got the chance to visit Malaysia for a month. I started to look for information about the country. I came across the website of Ma’Daerah Turtle Sanctuary, a hatchery and conservation centre dedicated to the protection and conservation of sea turtles. (In June 1999, the Department of Fisheries Malaysia, BP and WWF-Malaysia began efforts to transform Ma’Daerah into a model turtle conservation centre in Malaysia, and WWF-Malaysia continues turtle conservation efforts there). I decided to write to them and ask for permission to visit and volunteer at the turtle sanctuary. To my surprise, they responded to my request. They invited my parents to come along as well. The caretakers of Ma’Daerah welcomed me with open arms, which I am very grateful for. I spent a few days and nights learning about sea turtle conservation and the process itself, from patrolling, waiting for the mother sea turtle to decide where to lay her eggs, counting and transferring the laid eggs from the beach to the protected incubation area, as well as collecting and counting
the hatchlings from the protected nests, to releasing them onto the beach. The visit also included watching educational video clips, touring the Rantau Abang Turtle Breeding Centre, and exploring the local sea turtle museum! It was a mind-blowing encounter and the best volunteering experience I ever had! This hands-on experience
altered my perspective about the importance of protecting sea turtles.
In 2013, I got the opportunity to visit the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. Instead of saving hatchlings, they work diligently on curing sea turtles using surgery, weights, and Beano. These turtles suffer from bloating, fibropapilloma tumours, cracked shells, and human trash stuck in their digestive systems. These eye-opening experiences inspired me to come up with my guiding question, which was, “How can I build awareness about sea turtle conservation as well as get involved in volunteering and help others get involved?” We all know that sea turtles are endangered. But how many of us really care? How many people know that only one out of a thousand hatchlings will return to its native beach as a mature adult? I wanted to share my experiences and hopefully bring awareness to this community about the opportunities around the world for youth and families to get involved.
I am proud that I’ve completed this project. I learned so many different things through it, (not only facts about sea turtles), among which is expanding my horizons when it comes to people, places, and cultures around the world. I have broadened my network and made connections with experienced professionals that inspire me. Visiting new places and trying something different is one of the best ways to broaden one’s perspectives. I also came to realize that making a difference is possible, not necessarily through money or volunteering, but through other ways as well. Inspiring others, building awareness and spreading the word about sea turtle conservation play an equal part in protecting sea turtles as well. The managers at Ma’Daerah inspired me to create this project. My teachers, who helped and guided me throughout my project, my mentor, who gave me every single bit of information I asked for and then some, and my parents, who made my visits possible: these people, in one way or another, were involved in helping to spread the word. Everyone can be part of it. Join me in pledging to live green to inspire others to support sea turtle conservation. Simply think green, go green, live green, and stay green.
Last but not least, thanks to Ms Suan Tan of WWF-Malaysia! I am really grateful that I get to share my project with kids on the other side of the world thanks to her help.
Pledge to Live Green and support turtle conservation efforts, click here.