Hatchery and sea turtle monitoring
The TIC scientists based at the Tengah Island Hatchery collect data on endangered Green and critically endangered Hawksbill turtles in an otherwise undocumented and unstudied region and share this openly with governmental agencies, turtle conservation NGOs and academic institutions.
We do this to protect the populations of the turtles, and to increase turtle hatchlings survival rates through best practices in effective hatchery management and awareness. The programme includes morning boat patrols of the neighbouring islands in order to try and encounter nests before they are either poached or predated. Regular nightly patrols of the island are also scheduled to try and encounter and tag nesting females. We aim to introduce temperature loggers into the nests in order to monitor the temperature profile over time and try to understand how temperature may influence hatching success and gender ratio. We are working towards a programme to sample the DNA of the hatchlings in order to study the population dynamics and parentage, as well as deploy satellite tags on nesting females in order to track their migratory routes and better advocate for their protection.
CORAL REEF preservation & monitoring
In addition to Tengah Island Hatchery, TIC runs a wider marine conservation programme which includes coral reef mapping on Pulau Tengah and other Johor Islands, coral reef surveys and monitoring, reef restoration and other habitat studies with published scientific reports distributed quarterly. Data and findings are presented at a number of conferences including International Marine Conservation Congress 5 (IMCC5) 2018 and International Conference on Plastics in the Marine Environment 2018 (ICPME18). TIC is part of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Turtle Working Group, Malaysia.
• Monitoring Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They are home to millions of species of plants and fish that people depend on for food, medicines and tourism. They also serve as barriers in many areas to protect lives and properties from storms, waves, and the forces of erosion. Coral reef monitoring and assessment are important tools for effective management and can provide information to detect changes in reef conditions.
• Surveys Annual Reef Check surveys are conducted and bolstered this with our own in-house monitoring to study the coral and marine life in more detail over time. We also conduct Rapid Ecological Assessment Methods (REA), - comprehensive, small scale, site-specific surveys - to monitor temporal and spatial variations in marine habitats and populations. This non-invasive technique allows the collection of community level data by monitoring the abundance of coral reef organisms. These activities allow us to evaluate the coverage and health of the coral reefs surrounding Pulau Tengah.
• Mapping TIC is in the process of GPS mapping the coral reefs around the Pulau Tengah to determine their exact sizes and locations. This will help to determine reef growth and health over time, as well as allow appropriate planning for coral replanting and placement of mooring lines and buoy lines.
• Nursery and Restoration—in-situ & ex-situ TIC has deployed several coral nurseries around Pulau Tengah using the latest research to determine the most successful techniques for our region. So far, the nurseries have been highly successful with up to 5cm of growth per month.
BEACH AND UNDERWATER CLEAN UPS
TIC carries out beach and underwater cleanups with guests and staff to remove marine debris and “ghost” fishing gear which wash up on our island and damage our coral reefs. We separate and weigh all of the items collected so that we can keep an accurate record of the amount and type of debris collected by our team throughout the year in order to raise awareness. We also plan to collaborate and share our research with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.
BEACH PROFILE MONITORING
We monitor changes in the beach area caused by erosion or accretion patterns through temporal measurements of beach profiles. Beach profile data is used in numerous ways to guide decision making in coastal areas, such as monitoring beach nourishment and dune restoration projects and ensuring suitable nesting habitat for sea turtles.
INDIGENOUS TREE NURSERY
As part of a programme to reduce coastal and inland erosion, and to restore damaged areas of native forest, we have built an indigenous tree nursery. This contains native plant species carefully selected and propagated based on the ecological benefits they provide to the island, both in terms of biodiversity and soil stabilisation, as well as for the benefit inherent in promoting rare and native species in favour of exotics.
Since 2016 Batu Batu and TIC have conducted education and outreach programmes on marine conservation across eight schools in Mersing reaching over 500 school children. The Batu Batu and TIC teams have also joined local community beach cleanups and hosted an eco-awareness training for local boat operators at the resort in partnership with Marine Parks Department, Malaysia. The TIC team also conduct regular Staff Conservation Days where Batu Batu’s teams are given a chance to experience conservation work, engage in discussions and play games.