Monday 10 September 2012

Hawksbill turtles released in Samui waters at Silavadee Resort

It's been 21 years ago since there had been recorded Hawksbill Turtle nesting on Koh Samui! In April 2012 one of the Silavadee Resorts beach staff, Khun Nong, discovered turtle tracks on the resorts secret beach and within two days a nest was located. The General Manager of the resort, Mr. Conor O'Leary coordinated with the Fisheries Department of Surat Thani province and 87 eggs were collected to incubate at Samui Aquarium. This turned out to be a nest of Green Turtles. This is an endangered species in the Gulf of Thailand and around the world.

A baby Hawksbill turtle, shortly before being released

A month later, 133 eggs were found and brought once more to the Samui Aquarium for incubation. After inspection of these eggs, they were confirmed as as being Hawksbill turtles, which was much more of a surprise as these are listed on the critically endangered species list around the world. This is when it was noticed that there had been no recorded Hawksbill turtle nesting since over 21 years on Koh Samui.
Following these findings the Maritime and Coastal Resources Research Center (MCCRC) were informed and came to visit the beach. With educated calculations they were able to roughly advise when the next nesting should be. This was all done under the supervision of Khun Nipavan Bussarawit, the director of the MCRRDC center in the Gulf of Thailand.

With Khun Phannapa on the left and Khun Chonlada on the right side of this picture, managers and  part of the family that owns the Silavadee Resort in Lamai, who made all of this possible

All 8 species of sea turtles are classified under CITES as endangered and in need of protection. Unfortunately sea turtles are near extinction. In Thailand 5 species are found; Green turtle, Hawksbill turtle, leatherback turtle, Olive Ridley turtle an Loggerhead turtle. The first two species can be found in the Gulf of Thailand.

108 baby Hawksbill turtles waiting to be released

Back to Silavadee however, on the night of 26th may a team from the resort and from MCRRC camped out on the beach and were able to witness their Hawksbill Mum slowly make her way up the beach in search for a good location, carefully dig a hole and lay 147 golf ball sized eggs.

Mr Conor O'Leary during his speech in front of all invited guests, which included high ranking staff from Bangkok Samui Hospital, Bangkok Airways and local politicians among others.

Then every 2 weeks for 4 more visits this fantastic and wonderful natural miracle repeated itself and a totl of 1,003 eggs were collected from the resorts beach. The last 5 nested eggs were moved to MCRRC head office in Chumpon province for incubation and expected to keep until 1 year old before release.

Children from Lamai International school were invited to release turtles and they were mightilly impressed

However, with the successful hatching of more than 400 eggs the MCRRC are overwhelmed with baby turtles and the decision was made to release 108 baby turtles today.

The event was planned on a fairly short notice but the turn out was still impressive and hopefully future generations of turtle Mamma's will use the Silavadee beach for hatching their eggs.

Turtles are being released by Khun Ruengnam Chalkwang, president of THA on Koh Samui

The fertility ages of turtles are around 8-10 years and a pregnant turtle chooses a peaceful beach, above the highest water mark at high tide to lay eggs. A mother turtle can produce 50-150 eggs each time. A single mother can lay eggs up to 10 times.

When my wife, who is a local Samuian, was still a young kid, she can tell stories how they used to find turtle nests on Choengmon beach. Unfortunately with the arrival of tourists and later the resort all over the island, many beaches disqualified themselves in the eyes of pregnant turtles.

A good turn out was noted!

Even though a turtle is capable of laying many eggs, the survival rate of baby turtles into adulthood and into a fertile age is only a few out of a thousand! That's one of the reasons why it's so important that turtle nests are being treated with care nowadays.

The turtle that I was about to release today!

This was my second turtle release event this year. I was lucky enough to witness a turtle release event on Gili Air in Indonesia in February. PADI 5* IDC Center Oceans 5 has a turtle conversation project on an ongoing base and 20 Olive Ridley turtles were released.

Go buddy, swim and survive!

There are many reasons why the numbers of sea turtles have decreased. Certain fishing gear leads to the capture of many females preparing to nest and over development along the coast line, as already mentioned, is reducing the availability of nesting habitats. Often the eggs are collected for various reasons.

If you have seen dead marine endangered animals such as turtles, dolphins, dugongs, whales and whale sharks, please do call the help center of MCRRC at 077 505 141-2

With thanks to Gavin and Conor for inviting me to this rare and beautiful event!

Don't forget to use my Camille's Samui hotel recommendation blog and my Camille's Thailand hotel recommendation blog for all your hotel bookings on Koh Samui and around Thailand. By doing so, you will support my blog. Thanks folks!



Mihnea said...

If you ever get the chance to travel to Siracha in Chonburi province, I recommend you visit Koh Loi, a small island connected to mainland by a bridge, where, among others (temples, restaurants, markets etc), they also have a turtle conservation center with some very big turtles swimming in a man-made pond.

Camille said...

Thanks for the tip!