Thursday, 29 May 2014

Turtle Week: Day Six

Day 6 of Turtle Week was no less fun and action packed than the previous days. The morning began with the arrival of the Community College, who are based in Semporna. The Community College promotes possible job futures for children aged 14-16, and gives them a healthy introduction to skills in tourism and customer service that can be very beneficial in finding employment in Sabah. Nora, their teacher, has been a huge collaborator with Scuba Junkie for a number of years now, and has been incredibly instrumental in pushing for conservation to be a part of the Community College’s curriculum.

It wasn't just the kids enjoying Arts and Crafts!
The morning began with the 11 Community College students giving a presentation on turtles to the children of Project Sha (Sharing Help Awareness), an initiative set up to provide  the 4-16 year old children on Mabul with education to which they may otherwise have been denied. The presentation provided an introduction to the 4 species of turtle we encounter in Sabah; the leatherback, the green, the hawksbill and the olive’s ridley. They then gave the eager young children a healthy list of reasons why conservation is so important in protecting these species and why relatively easy methods such as proper waste disposal can have such a dramatic impact. It was a brilliant effort from the Community College, and the young children of Project Sha absolutely ate it up!

Things start getting messy 
Next up, time to get a little messy with some arts and crafts! With our Scuba Junkie staff having provided a giant turtle mural for the kids to decorate, they all got stuck in with some finger painting to add their own personalized touch. As well as this, our staff had made a number of turtles using discarded plastic bottles for the kids to decorate; another way to demonstrate how recycling can be put to good effect! With that amount of paint and excitable children around, face painting was inevitable, and soon enough everyone from Nora to the Project Sha kids, to even Rohan the resort manager, had their faces adorned with turtle patterns.

After a few more games with the kids, it was time for the Community College students to hand out goody bags as a thank you for everyone who got involved. We are incredibly grateful for the effort put in yesterday, and really hope that sessions like these can inspire the future generations to be more aware and therefore proactive about conversation and the environment. Thanks again guys!

With the Community College kids taking a break for lunch, our staff and interns, along with some customers keen to get involved, managed to find time for another successful reef clean. Whilst these reef cleans will not stop the litter problems at the course, they are a great way to maintain an aesthetically pleasing and healthy coral reef system. In just one hour our team was able to collect a number of cans, bottles, plastics and clothes that had been discarded into the water and which prove to be daily hazards to the turtles that frequent our reefs.

After lunch, our resort manager Rohan gave the Community College kids a slightly truncated version of his Turtle presentation, to provide them with conservation information about turtles just as they had done for the Project Sha kids. After that, it was time to go snorkeling! Our experienced staff and intern team first provided the kids with a detailed snorkeling briefing, informing them of proper kicking techniques, how to clear their snorkels and for the more experienced amongst them, how to duck dive. We also stressed the importance of responsible snorkeling techniques, such as not touching the coral or interacting with the marine life. With many of the children being inexperienced swimmers, it was a fulfilling reward for the scuba junkie team to be able to help them overcome their fears of water, and a great thank you for their efforts earlier on in the day.

Snorkel Time!!

Finally, in the evening we welcomed our 
guest speaker Nattalee Lim from Reef 
Check to give a presentation the 
importance of protecting the coral reef 
system, and what we can do to get 
involved. This fascinating talk illuminated the complexities of 
conducting a reef check analysis. Part of which involves laying down a 100m transect line, and noting the number of 
various indicator species and substrates 
to analyse the health of the reef system. 
She also touched upon how the changing health of the reef will affect us.
We are incredibly grateful to Natalee 
for making the journey down from Kota Kinabalu to Mabul. 

It's the final day now, but remember, you can still donate online at
Every little counts, and it's not too late! 

Facts about Kemps Ridely Turtles

  • Kemp’s ridley turtle is the most severely endangered marine turtle in the world; in the 1980s only a few hundred females were observed nesting, although the population is now showing signs of recovery
  • Along with the olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley turtle used to exhibit mass synchronised nestings known as ‘arribadas’ (Spanish for ‘mass arrivals’), where thousands of females came ashore on the same beach to nest at the same time
  • The nesting season peaks in May and June and unusually amongst turtles, nesting occurs during the day
  • Adults are carnivorous bottom-feeders, eating a wide range of prey including fish, jellyfish, although crabs are the mainstay of their diet
  • Kemp’s ridley turtles have an extremely restricted range; found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico and some way up the eastern seaboard of the United States 
  • They are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List 

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