Thursday, January 13, 2011

More male turtles needed

January 13, 2011

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is trying to hatch more male turtles to mate with females so that the reptiles will not disappear from the island’s coastlines.

The Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation Sanctuary is working to maintain a breeding ratio of 70 females to 30 males under a programme which began three years ago.

Department licensing and resource protection officer Mansor Yobe said they needed to have more male turtles for the females which come to shore to lay their eggs eight times a year.

“If we don’t do this, there may not be any turtles left here in future,” he said at the sanctuary at the north-west tip of Penang island.

Besides Green Turtles, the Olive Ridley Turtles are also known to lay their eggs at Pantai Kerachut, Pantai Teluk Kampi, Pantai Teluk Ailing and Pantai Teluk Ketapang on the island’s north-west coast.

Mansor said records from 2000 until 2006 showed that close to 100% of all hatchlings at the sanctuary were females.

He said they then started testing various sites by burying the eggs in shaded spots under trees or in cooler areas to try to get more male turtles hatched.

He added that a shaded hatchery was built at a cost of RM16,500 in 2009 to help determine the gender of the turtles.

“After collecting the eggs from several sites, we placed them in the shaded hatchery where the temperature is about 28.2 degrees Celsius.

“Eggs buried in the sand outside the shaded hatchery will produce females as the temperature there is hotter at 30 degrees Celsius,” he said.

He said eggs at the sanctuary were hatched on the beach rather than in a temperature-controlled incubator because research has shown this produced healthier hatchlings.

He said last year, some 5,000 eggs were collected and 70% were successfully hatched.

“We hope to collect the same number this year,” he said, adding that the peak period for turtles to lay eggs is between December and August.

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