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Discovery of sea turtle’s nest lifts hope of conservationists

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A sea turtle being released by fishermen in Koh Sdach commune of Koh Kong province’s Kirisakor district in February of this year. FB

Discovery of sea turtle’s nest lifts hope of conservationists

Researchers from the Fisheries Administration (FiA) – and the Coastal and Marine Conservation team at Fauna & Flora International Cambodia Programme (FFI-Cambodia) – expressed joy and pride after they recently discovered a nest of endangered sea turtles on one of the Kingdom’s islands.

Officials said the sea turtle (superfamily Chelonioidea) was previously thought to have gone extinct in the past decade.

Ouk Vibol, director of the FiA’s fisheries conservation department, said that since records began in 2001, researchers from his department and FFI-Cambodia had discovered a total of 140 sea turtles, of which 43 were Hawksbill and 90 Green.

He said the turtles were released back into the sea after they were painted with identifying marks – with some of them chipped with location beacons so their movements could be monitored.

According to a report seen by The Post on May 30, the latest colony was found in late March, following their disappearance in the last decade. A total of 93 eggs were found and 36 had hatched.

According to Vibol, there are five species of sea turtle: Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Olive Ridley.

He said the location where these sea turtles were found had been developed ahead of a resort being built and had been extensively fished by commercial fishermen.

“The recent discovery of these nests gives us hope for our sea turtle conservation programme and increases the possibility that we may find other nests in the near future,” Vibol said.

“Sea turtles are an important fishery resource and endangered species, as stated in a sub-decree issued in 2009. The International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN] lists sea turtles as a species under threat, especially the Hawksbill.

“All species of sea turtle are listed in the appendix of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species which totally bans their trade,” he said, adding the government had ordered fishermen to release them back to their habitat immediately, should they catch one.

Vibol said his department, the coastal community near the nests and FFI-Cambodia are taking care of the newly discovered eggs and releasing the hatchlings to ensure their numbers increase.

Phel Ra, a member of a fishing community on Koh Rong in Preah Sihanouk province, said his community had become role models in conserving marine resources, including sea turtles.


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