Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Last Dinosaur" from Papua

Indonesia is home to 6 of 7 species of sea turtles in the world. Two of them are the leatherback turtle and Ridley Turtle. Two endangered species are often found in Beach and Beaches Warmon Jamursbamedi in Abun Conservation area, Papua. Beaches had become the largest nesting place in the Western Pacific. They come and lay eggs throughout the year.

It is very encouraging when I had the opportunity to follow the journey of Sea Turtle Conservation Team World Wild Fund of The Nation WWF in Papua in spawning season. The goal is to monitor the turtle and leatherback turtles.

Together the group, at 07.00 WIT, I depart from the Port of Sorong Fisheries using speedboats headed turtle nesting beaches in the area of ​​Conservation Abun. Precisely at the beach and Warmon Jamursbamedi located about 200 kilometers from the city of Sorong. The weather was quite sunny morning. We deliberately leave early because of the length of the trip and had to race with the waves of the sea north of Papua.

Travel to the location where turtle nesting is not an easy matter. There are no other alternatives along the stretch of the sea "Bird's Head" Papua than by sea travel.

After taking time for 10 hours, we were riding speedboat which eventually landed in the village of Wau Abun Sorong District. Villages with a population of 36 families this is the location closest to the beach and Jamursbamedi Warmon.

We do not immediately find a turtle that we seek. To monitor the presence of sea turtles return must continue our journey by speedboat for 2 hours to Jamurbamedi, while Beach was forced Warmon we could not reach because of high tides and waves were too big.

Please note, these two beaches is known as a turtle nesting site that is still natural. With white sand and hot temperatures, is suitable as a turtle laying eggs, to hatch into hatchlings. According to local residents, had already visited two beaches turtles since hundreds of years ago.

Unlike decades ago when people can watch the turtles lay their eggs in the daytime, now turtles can only be seen at night. Therefore, we still have to be patient to wait for nightfall. It was around 10pm. Turtles are very sensitive to light, so we were only armed with minimal lighting. Accompanied by a flashlight and starlight we began to explore the seashore Jamursbamedi along 18 kilometers.

So the search began. To facilitate the search usually spread Turtle Conservation Team patrols at some point of turtle nesting sites. By way of identifying their tracks when it rises to the land and back into the sea. Traces when stepped onto land and back into the sea can be distinguished from the former front fin movement. In that way, where turtles lay their eggs could be found.

Two hours later, we were able to identify traces of turtle weighing 70 kilograms which will spawn. We also began to observe the nesting process to complete. Starting from determining the location of their nests to go back to sea. Turtle runs with the front fins as far as more or less 10 meters from the beach, then with the dorsal nest turtle began to dig a hole as deep as 60 centimeters. It took about 40 minutes to remove 80 eggs at a ping-pong ball. and then closing the nest with sand.

Before returning to the sea, sea turtle nest or nest camouflage tricks to fool the predators such as humans, lizards, and wild boar. Usually just a former undercover nest twist front fins which is about 2 meters from the original nest.

In addition to observing the process of laying, we also mark the turtle with the installation of metal tags and take skin samples for genetic sampled. Search the evening finished with a female turtle to the post to be installed satellite transmitter on the next day.

Search for second night continued. Like the previous night, we tried along the east side of Beach Jamursbamedi. The hope to see leatherback turtles. In Warmamedi area about 5 kilometers from the observation post, we finally found the turtles weighing nearly half a tonne with a length of 2 meters up to the beach and lay eggs. This is the leatherback turtle. Turtles commonly dubbed the "last dinosaur" that is the only turtle with no shell on his back. His skin resembles a prominent striped star fruit. The color is black with white spots.

To monitor the turtle, we use a device called an ordinary transmitter mounted on the backs of turtles. Specialist installer of transmitter from WWF Turtle Conservation Team, I Made Jaya Ratha says, made for easy installation of the transmitter to monitor the movement and know the migration routes of sea turtles. Moreover, this turtle's life cycle at sea 99 percent, so it is not visible.

From the results of monitoring at two nesting beaches were until now unknown, Ridley Turtle migrate around the Arafura Sea. Whereas leatherback turtle is a turtle that has the ability to roam far and most capable menepuh travel up to 6,000 miles in one year more.

In Indonesia, the leatherback turtle laying eggs on the beach only Jamursbamedi and Warmon. They are going to migrate in all directions, down to the Solomon Islands Papua, heading south to the Kei Islands in Southeast Maluku, to the north beyond the Philippines to Japan, and crossed the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of California.

Since 2003, at least 22 leatherback turtles and 13 endangered turtle has been fitted with satellite transmitter that sends a signal every turtle surfaced. During the nesting season in April through September, by monitoring sea turtle conservation efforts carried out in the morning and evening by the patroller. Usually monitoring is done by walking along the beach. They are local people involved as patrols and trained personnel to maintain and monitor sea turtle eggs.

Each turtle nest eggs will be marked patroller to find out how many turtles come and lay eggs to keep safe from predators such as monitor lizards, wild pigs and humans. Even if you need to do a relocation or removal of turtle eggs.

Actually, why conservation and monitoring of two species of sea turtles in Papua it is very important to do? Barnabas Wurlianty, Project Leader, North Papua Managment leatherback Habitat World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said the area is an important region with a population of sea turtles come to lay eggs, and is the only place that its population is high with a long nesting beaches , especially in northern Papua. Although in the United States, Mexico and India also have turtle nesting sites, but the population is relatively small. So is the beach area penelurannya.

According to Barnabas, 20 years old this tertakhir turtle populations in the Pacific, which is a solid point of this reptile, dropped dramatically. From the World Wild Fund notes WWF Indonesia, during 2008, nearly 5,000 turtles landed there. Whereas leatherback turtle is estimated only about 2,000 are left. In fact, two decades ago is estimated to reach 30 thousands of turtles and the region itself was found to be 13 thousand nesting sea turtles.

Many factors threaten the sustainability of the leatherback turtle population and the Lion on the north coast of Papua. Cause, among other wild hunt and fishing nets that often occurs in high seas areas, natural predators, and abrasion.

But the man turned out to be the biggest threat. They eat and to sell eggs and meat. Even activities that damage the beach where sea turtles lay their eggs resulted in the failure of eggs to hatch. Conditions that put the turtle in Papua is the most endangered sea turtle population in the world. Leatherback turtles entered the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources (IUCN). That is, the animal has the highest extinction risk.

Not to mention the very low hatching success. From about a thousand sea turtle eggs, only one survived into adulthood. So, turtle conservation efforts began actively conducted WWF by involving local communities. Communities were given the understanding of the importance of protecting sea turtles. They are understanding the importance of turtle conservation in their region.

Turtle conservation in Papua is originated from aerial surveys in Cote Jamursbamedi in the 1980's. That moment is known that the first time how important coastal habitats such as the leatherback turtle and the Lion. Along the 20 kilometers of coastline was discovered more than 250 female turtles come to lay their eggs each night at the peak of spawning season.

The largest nesting place in the Pacific

Leatherback turtle conservation and turtle have significance for fish, human and industrial fishermen. As predators of jellyfish, leatherback turtles and Dark be able to set the balance of jellyfish populations in the sea. If the jellyfish population excess, then he will prey on fish larvae, so that fish populations become threatened. Consequently, turtles are important for sustainability should be maintained.

To ensure the protection of nesting beaches for sea turtle populations in the Pacific leatherback sea turtles in particular in order to remain stable or increase, protect it from excessive exploitation and protect the habitats of importance in Jamursbamedi and Warmon, made a deal with by making two nesting sites namely Jamursbamedi and Warmon as Regions Marine Conservation Area (KKLD) Abun.

Earlier this territory into the realm of the Sub-Institute for Natural Resources Conservation Papua BKSDA I Sorong as a wildlife area. Apparent support turtle protection is strengthened by the setting KKLD Abun through SK Bupati Sorong Decree No. 142 of 2005 which establishes marine areas and coastal districts as KKLD Abun. In the decree that included broad beach that reaches 169 thousand hectares, from the coastline to land that is more than 5 km.

Abun KKLD is one KKLD on the island of Papua who have special specification namely the establishment of this area are based because this area is the largest leatherback turtle nesting area in the Pacific. Thus, protection of water areas as routes of migration and protection of coastal areas and forests disekitarnyanya a priority.

Abun KKLD in admintratif located within the District territory and the District Abun Sausapor Sorong Papua. Head of Conservation and Coastal Fisheries and Maritime Affairs in Sorong, Linder Rouw said efforts KKLD determination was carried out for turtle nesting habitat is maintained. It is driven by local government awareness of the importance of Sorong regency for the sustainability of the region's largest turtle in the world.

Abun KKLD is one instance where an appreciation of the turtle protection should be given to all sectors, both to the government, communities and educational institutions, academics, and NGOs.

As one of the largest nesting area in the Pacific and as a region important for the sustainability of the world's largest turtle, Cote Jamursbamedi and Warmon become the only hope to keep the turtles from extinction.

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