Sunday, July 6, 2014

Resort’s marine team releases rescued turtle

Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre marine biologist Scott Mayback showing 'Ninja' to hotel guests before it was released into the sea last Friday. Pic by Malai Rosmah Tuah
KOTA KINABALU: When “Ninja”, the green sea turtle was rescued in April, she was in a bad state — malnourished, covered with barnacles and suffering from a bacterial infection.
Those who treated her feared she might not survive in captivity.
Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) officers rescued her from a farmer in Papar as he was loading her into the back of his car.
“We do not know the cause of the bacterial infection.
“It could be due to the turtle being kept in a cage for a long time because only turtles with low activity will get such a large amount of barnacles,” said SWD assistant director Dr Sen Nathan.
The young turtle, aged between seven and 10, was brought to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.
As the department has only veterinary support and does not possess facilities to care for marine life, SWD contacted Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre (GIRMC) and transferred the turtle there.
“Ninja was treated with antibiotics for three weeks,” said Sen.
Ninja was the fourth turtle to be taken in by the centre.
As she refused to eat in the first week, Sen had described her condition as “touch and go”. However, she started getting better after 10 days.
After three months and under the watchful eye of GIRMC marine biologist Scott Mayback, her weight increased from 7.7kg to 8.6kg.
She was deemed fit and was released last Friday into the waters just outside the centre.
“Credit should be given to the centre,” said Sen.
“It is the first turtle rescue centre in the country.
“Since we do not have the logistical support or capability to care for injured turtles, we will be working together with the centre by transferring rescued turtles there for treatment.
“Other coastal resorts should consider establishing marine centres.
“Actually, we do not need many, just two in the west coast and two in the east coast of Sabah was good enough to handle cases such as stranded turtles.”
Sen who is also the department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit head, said SWD did not handle marine wildlife and 90 per cent of the cases it handled involved terrestrial wildlife.
He said the department and the Kuala Penyu district office were looking into turtle conservation.
“We’ve released 92 baby turtles. This number will not have an immediate impact on the population. However, what is important is people remain committed, especially in gaining the involvement of the local community.”
-nst online.

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