RELEASING SEA TURTLES, RELEASING THREATS TO MARINE ECOLOGY
Author: Syarif Yulius Hadinata / WWF-Indonesia Inner Banda Arc Subseascape
(21/01) Maluku Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Tual Resort released four hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). Before the release, morphometric measurement and skin tissue sampling were performed to their left flippers. The measurement and the sampling were going to be used for DNA’s barcode analysis to trace genetic connectivity of sea turtles as a forensic tool.
The outcome of morphometric measurement shows that each curved carapace length (CCL) and curved carapace width (CCW) are (1) CCL 46 centimeters and CCW 40 centimeters, (2) CCL 44 centimeters and CCW 36 centimeters, (3) CCL 43 centimeters and CCW 37 centimeters, and (4) CCL 39 centimeters and CCW 34 centimeters.
Justinus P. Yoppi Jamlean, Chief of BKSDA Tual Resort, explained that the sea turtles were handed by Langgur residents who had been keeping them for a year. The release was carried out after going through an approach process by providing understanding to the residents who previously kept the sea turtles, until finally the four marine animals were then released into their habitat.
The release was done in Ohoiwa Island waters, which is within the marine protected area (MPA) of Small Kei, and organized by Fisheries Office in Southeast Maluku Regency, Agriculture Quarantine Station Class I Ambon Working Area of Tual, and WWF Indonesia – Inner Banda Arc Sub-seascape.
Sea turtle is a marine animal who has a vital role to the marine ecology. While migrating, sea turtles also bring prolificacy and lushness in the ocean. They help the growth of coral reefs by eating the algae (coral reef’s competitor); maintain the fish stock by preying on jelly fish which is the predator of fish fry; and trim strands of old seagrass to ease the young ones grow so that it can be a habitat for fish breeding.
The extinction of sea turtles will disrupt the food chain in the nature. If this happened, it will harm the humankind in food security in terms of fish stock and other marine commodities. Therefore, we should take part in conserving sea turtles by not consuming it, trading it, even keeping it as a pet. By doing so, we are participating in alleviating the threats to our sea.
Mukhtar Amin Ahmadi, the head of BKSDA Maluku, encouraged the local residents not to own, keep, or consume every protected wild animal. This is because it has been regulated in the existing and applied regulations. Six from seven sea turtle species in the world, were found and live in Indonesia waters. These six species have total protections from the regulations, “Everything has been managed in the regulation number 5 year 1990 regarding Conservation of Natural Resources and Their Ecosystems,” Mukhtar said.