Sea Turtles in Redang, Malaysia

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We had the chance to pass some days with our university in Redang, an island in the South China Sea, not far from our town on the eastern coast of Malaysia. Redang hosts many big resorts for tourists, but there is still a beautiful bay which is like a little untouched paradise. Its name is Chagar Hutang, and it hosts an important sea turtle research unit (SEATRU). In this beach every year, hundreds of sea turtle arrive for nesting, and preserving this place has central importance for turtles conservation. Even if marine turtles have an important role in marine ecosystems, their eggs keep on being caught and sold by fishermen. In South-East Asia, this is a big ecological problem, and the university has an active campaign to fight against the turtle eggs consumption.

Here we saw female turtles climbing the beach and looking for the best place to dig their nest in the sand, then laying eggs (more than one hundred!) and camouflaging the nest to avoid predators attacks.

DSC_8257We could also help with some activities like rescuing some of the hatchlings that were stuck in the nest: they are called heroes, as they help the upper hatchlings to get out of the nest first, but normally they don’t manage to go up to the surface on their own. So, after taking them from the nest during the night they are released on the beach. During the day, it would be too dangerous as too many predators are around and they wouldn’t be able to orientate with the sunlight.

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Identification: Matang Mangrove Forest

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As part of our work, we are interested in the identification of species that are present in a particular area. The aim of identification is to make a description of the natural environment.
Identification was one of the activities that we did in our field course in Matang Mangrove Reserve Forest, in the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. Here the mangrove forest has been used for charcol and poles production for more than one hundred years. It is a successful case of forest management and it is considered one of the best mangrove management systems worldwide.

When the research purposes require taking samples of the species that were found for indentification, the samples need to present special features. For the flora, fruits and flowers are characteristic for each species. In case of fauna, the criteria of identification are very wide and they depend on the taxonomic group, but normally the complete individual is needed.

For the plants samples, one of the final destination could be an  Herbarium (a collection of dried plant specimens usually mounted and systematically arranged for reference).

For the animals, after the identification they can be released to their habitat or taken to a collection.