Tengah Island Conservation (TIC) is a biodiversity management initiative located on the island’s Long Beach. Founded and partially funded by Batu Batu, TIC is dedicated to the research, rehabilitation and regeneration of our natural environment.
 

2017 ANNUAL REPORT

Highest hatching success.

 
 

In 2017 the project was led by a resident Project Coordinator, Stephen Lee, and a Marine Biologist, Mariana Pereira. During 2017 year TWC aimed to:

  • Increase endangered Green and Hawksbill turtle hatchlings’ chances of survival through implementing a controlled hatchery and monitoring in-situ nests.

  • Educate tourists, resort staff and local communities on the need for turtle and marine conservation in the area.

  • Establish contact with other local conservation projects and standardise protocols and data collection.

  • Collaborate with governmental organisations.

  • Study and monitor our surrounding coral reefs and marine habitats.

With this report we aim to present the work conducted by the conservation team during 2017. The report is divided into two major parts; Turtle Conservation and Marine Conservation, with a third part dedicated to other projects, finances and recommendations for the future.

 

Data compiled by Mariana Pereira — Marine Biologist, Turtle Watch Camp, Batu Batu Resort 2016 — 2017

 

TURTLE CONSERVATION PROGRAMme.

 
 

Summary

The 2017 sea turtle nesting season officially started in January with the first female to lay her eggs on Turtle Beach, and finished in November with the last hatchlings released into the ocean. During 2017, 54 volunteers from different parts of the world joined our conservation efforts bringing manpower, new ideas and revenue to the project. Patrol protocols and the hatchling rehabilitation program were redesigned, new educational talks and presentations were created, collaboration with governmental agencies and conservation projects were strengthened, and egg collector training was conducted by the Department of Fisheries.

RESULTS & DISCUSSION

During the 2017 sea turtle nesting season, Turtle Watch Camp was able to collect 60 nests with a total of 7588 eggs, from which 4612 hatched, and successfully released 4543 sea turtle hatchlings, achieving a hatching success rate of 60.8%. Hatching success is defined as the percentage of eggs that hatch, which includes the number of dead hatchlings found completely developed outside of the egg shells. 98% of the hatchlings released were Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and 2% were Green turtles (Chelonia mydas).

A total of 5 nests were found poached: four Green nests at Turtle Beach and one Hawksbill nest at P. Hujong.

In 2017, TWC achieved the highest hatching success since the beginning of the project. There was an increase of 13.1% and 12.8% compared to 2016 and 2015 nesting seasons, respectively.  Compared to 2016, this year we recorded an increase of 29.3% of the number of Hawksbill eggs laid and a decrease of 65.7% on the number of Green eggs.

These fluctuations on the number of nesting turtles could be related with their natural behaviour since individual sea turtles do not nest every year, with each nesting cycle separated by an interval of two to five years.

At TWC, we measure the population status by counting the number of nests produced by the various species every year. However, this figure does not provide an indication of the actual population size since it measures only the mature female turtles that ascend the beaches to lay several clutches of eggs per nesting season. Aside from this, we are not able to capture all Johor’s nesting events in our data.

 

60

Nest Collected

7,588

Eggs Collected

 

4,612

Hatched

4,543

Turtles Released

 

60.8%

Hatching Rate

5

Nests Poached

 
 
 

Beach & Underwater clean up.

 
 

238

Bags of Rubbish collected

6

Ghost gear retrieved

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Throughout 2017, 238 bags of rubbish were collected from Pulau Tengah beaches, with plastics and polystyrene accounting for an estimated 98% of the garbage. Some critical areas were identified according to the accumulation of debris after the monsoon period. Due to the difficult access for guests and children, these areas were cleaned mainly with the help of TWC volunteers.

In June, oil pollutants washed up on our beaches and tar balls were found all the way from Sunrise to Sunset beach. The cleaning process was long and tiring however, after 6 days of intensive cleaning by the conservation and dive team, all the beach areas were oil free. The oil spill spread onto other islands, reaching as far as Tioman Island.

Coincidentally or not, in July 2016 the same occurred at P. Tengah, although on a smaller scale. These events can produce serious impacts on the marine environment.

Underwater clean-ups were also conducted with the help of volunteers and the dive team. Seven fish cages were retrieved from P. Hujong, P. Gual and P. Tengah, and three fishing nets were found trapped around the coral reefs at Sunrise reef, Turtle Bay and Hujong reef.

 
 

CONCLUSION

SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION IN JOHOR – SAFEGUARDING THEIR FUTURE

 
 
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Although the conservation projects carried out by TWC this year have been successful, and had a positive impact on the number of juvenile sea turtles released, we believe that the population in the region is in trouble. Nests are still being poached and adults continue to be struck and killed by boats.

Without intervention to limit boat speeds and officially protect sea turtles and their eggs, the population is going to continue to decline. Turtles are a flagship species and an icon for ocean health and environmental protection - attracting visitors from foreign countries and inspiring new generations to preserve the environment around them.

 
 

support our projects and activities

 
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Marine COnservation programmes. 

 
 

REEF CHECK SURVEYS

In March 2017, the conservation team was trained and certified as Reef Check Eco-divers by the Reef Check Malaysia program. Reef Check consists of a standard survey method which allows us to observe changes in coral reefs over space and time. Three coral reefs were surveyed around Pulau Tengah – Junior Reef, Sunrise Reef and Northern Reef. One 100m transect line was deployed, parallel to the shoreline, on each reef. Fish, invertebrates and benthic coverage was recorded, as well as any visible impacts, namely trash, coral damages, bleaching and coral diseases.  

CORAL SURVEYS

In order to evaluate the coral coverage and health of P. Tengah reefs, coral surveys were implemented as a new project for TWC.

The project aims to identify the main groups of corals and their coverage around the island and, at the same time, evaluate the health of the reefs.

The first coral survey was conducted at Junior Reef with 16 transects of 25 m each, randomly distributed along the coral reef.

Approximately 75% of the reef was covered in less than 3 months of surveys (end July-September), with the help of TWC volunteers.

RESULTS

Junior Reef coral coverage is composed by 50.79% of live corals, 36.61% of sand, rocks, rubble, and others, 10.07% of dead coral, 2.47% of Sponges and 0.07% of Gorgonians. Besides the percentage of coral coverage, the survey also allowed us to identify any coral disease and bleaching present on the site: 1.62% of the live corals were found bleaching and no coral diseases were detected.

 

50.79%

Live Corals in Junior Reef

10.07%

Dead Corals in Junior Reef

 
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