Sabah’s Turtle Island – Year Of The Turtle 2006

Since 2005, Scubazoo have been directly involved in the Year of the Turtle, launched in Bangkok in March 2006. This huge project aims to increase awareness of the plight of sea turtles throughout Asia.

The Indian Ocean – South-East Asia (IOSEA) ‘Year of the Turtle – 2006′ aims to unite nations and communities to celebrate marine turtles and to support their conservation.  While increasing public awareness and understanding of the threats faced by marine turtles, the campaign will also highlight the work of dedicated organisations that are striving to conserve these ancient creatures and the habitats on which they depend.

Coordinated by the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU Secretariat in Bangkok, the Year of the Turtle is being organised around a number of core themes: celebrating marine turtles, taking measures to ensure their long-term survival, conserving marine turtle habitats, reducing accidental capture in fishing operations, and encouraging applied research. These objectives are meant to guide the campaign activities at national and local levels throughout the year.

Already a wide range of exciting events and activities are being planned, among them: training workshops for the fishing industry in Viet Nam, turtle beach clean-up days in Pakistan, publication of new research findings in Thailand, and the launch of limited edition postal stamps in Kenya.  A YoT Event Calendar will contain a complete listing of all activities, and will enable users to enter descriptions of their own events.

With a theme of “Cooperating to Conserve Marine Turtles – our Ocean’s Ambassadors”, it is hoped the campaign will be a milestone in the conservation of marine turtles and their habitats of this vast region. The YoT campaign will begin officially on 1 March 2006, and will run through to the end of 2006.

As part of the YoT, Scubazoo will be producing an educational DVD that will be distributed throughout the IOSEA region. Towards this aim, the beginning of February saw Simon Enderby and Matt Oldfield flying over to the east coast of Sabah to spend several days filming and photographing on Sabah’s Turtle Islands. These islands are part of the world’s first trans-boundary marine park which encompasses islands located in both Malaysian and Philippine waters.

The aim of the trip was to capture footage and photographs of green and hawksbill turtles nesting on the islands, the hatching of nests as well as the work of the Sabah Parks rangers that run the various turtle conservation projects on the islands. Simon and Matt spent several nights searching for and filming green turtles on Selingan island, and followed the rangers on their patrols around the beaches as they measured the nesting females and transferred the newly-laid eggs to protected hatcheries. Another night was spent on tiny Gulisan looking for hawksbill turtles coming up to nest on the narrow sand bar that makes up half of the island.

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