Follow the journey of Melaka's hawksbill turtles
Kem Terendak, Melaka – WWF-Malaysia, in partnership with the Department of Fisheries Melaka and Kem Terendak military base camp, has deployed a satellite transmitter on a female Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) on 11 August 2007 after she successfully nested. She was released at approximately 4.30 am the same day.
This is the third and final deployment of satellite transmitters for this year by WWF-Malaysia; two others have been deployed on hawksbills nesting at Pulau Upeh on 29 July and 5 August.
This research, the second year running, is being conducted to discover the foraging habitat of the hawksbills nesting along the Melaka coastline and their migration patterns in the Straits of Melaka. The research data gathered is crucial in identifying and reducing threats to the turtles’ marine habitat, where they spend most of their lives. These hawksbills undertake their long journey every few years to Melaka beaches solely to complete their reproductive cycle.
Last year two hawksbills were tracked by WWF-Malaysia and the Department of Fisheries Melaka using this satellite telemetry technology. The two hawksbill ‘princesses’, Puteri Tanjung Dahan and Puteri Pulau Upeh, named after their nesting homes, were tracked last year to the Riau Archipelago as well as Indonesian and Singaporean waters. They were named by Datuk Seri Haji Mohd. Ali bin Mohd. Rustam, the Chief Minister of Melaka, and Datuk Haji Md. Yunos bin Husin, ex-State Chairman of Rural and Agriculture Development Committee.
Kem Terendak and Pulau Upeh were chosen as deployment sites since these nesting grounds support two of the largest nesting populations of hawksbills in Melaka. The state, better known for its historical sites, is home to the largest nesting population in Peninsular Malaysia, second only to Sabah’s Turtle Islands. Each year approximately 300 nestings are recorded by the state Department of Fisheries.
The hawksbill tagged at Kem Terendak, currently unnamed, now bears identification numbers on both her front flippers (Tag Nos. MY4444/MY4445). She measures 81.8 cm in shell length and weighs 52 kg.
As the hawksbills’ marine home extends beyond Malaysian territorial waters, regional co-operation and partnership is an important factor in saving these ancient mariners. Guided by the satellite telemetry, WWF-Malaysia will be able to track their journey back to their feeding grounds. Marine turtles are only dependent on the beach for egg incubation and spend most of their lifetime in coastal waters, feeding in coral reefs. Results from this research are crucial for a better understanding of their post-nesting movement and habitat use.
The hawksbills’ journey will be plotted and can be followed at: http://wwf.org.my/malacca/hawksbill_turtle_tracking
Notes to the Editor:
The project is tracking hawksbills to:
- establish the migration route and feeding ground of the hawksbills to facilitate the protection of their habitat
- communicate migration routes and distant foraging grounds of hawksbills to relevant regional Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and Agreements to enhance regional marine turtle conservation strategies and partnerships (e.g. Indian Ocean-Southeast Asia Marine Turtle MoU and MoU on ASEAN Sea Turtle Conservation and Protection)
- educate and create awareness among local schoolchildren in the coastal areas, based on satellite telemetry of turtles
For further information:
Eza Dzul Karnain, Media & Public Affairs Co-ordinator, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603 7803 3772 ext 6103
Fax: +603 7803 5157 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lau Min Min, Team Leader, Conservation of Hawksbill Turtles & Painted Terrapins in Melaka Programme, WWF-Malaysia, Tel: +6013 390 8802, Email: email@example.com