Borneo Divers and Sea Sports (Sabah) Sdn. Bhd. in collaboration with the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and its various agencies (Sabah Wildlife Department; Sabah Tourism Board and Sabah Parks); the Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah; the Dive Unit of the Royal Malaysian Police; The Borneo Connections Sdn. Bhd; and The Flying Dusun Sdn. Bhd. organised the very successful ‘7th Borneo Divers’ Celebration of Sea Turtles in Mabul 2019’. This Ecovolunteerism and Outreach event was held from 11 to 14 November 2019 at the Borneo Divers Mabul Resort.
The objectives of this event were:
C – Conservation
A – Awareness
R – Research
E – Education
During the course of the programme, Dr. Pushpa Palaniappan from UMS and the team of volunteer Research Assistants photographed, measured and tagged 74 sea turtles caught in their natural habitat in Mabul by the expert dive team (including 19 Marine Police divers) in 15 dives. The two schools in Mabul Island – SK Mabul and School of Hope were also invited to participate in the educational activities held during the event.
The Opening Ceremony, held on 12 November 2019, was officiated by Datuk Christina Liew, the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, who was represented by Mr Augustine Tuuga, the Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department (Figure 1).
Highlights during this event include the following:
a) A NEW record of a third species of sea turtles in Mabul waters – an olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) (Figure 2).
b) A NEW record of catching a juvenile green turtle (Figure 1) on a biannual basis TWELVE (12) times consecutively for biological research since May 2014.
c) Dr Ai Yin, the Wildlife Rescue Unit veterinarian from the Sabah Wildlife Department sent two green turtles to the rehabilitation centre in Mabul – the former was slightly emaciated and covered with algae (Figure 3) and the latter had signs of the skin cancer, fibropapillomatosis (Figure 4).
Figure 1: Mr Augustine Tuuga, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department releases the juvenile green turtle (Chelonia mydas) that was caught 12 times consecutively for biological research since May 2014.
Figure 2: A new record of an olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) in the waters of Mabul Island.
Figure 3: An adult male green turtle (Chelonia mydas) that was sent to the rehabilitation centre as it was slightly emaciated and covered with algae.
Figure 4: A juvenile green turtle (Chelonia mydas) with signs of the skin cancer, fibropapillomatosis.