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female. Once the nesting process is finished and the female has returned to the ocean, our trained staff carefully excavate the nest, taking care not to change the orientation of the eggs, and relocate them to our hatchery. At the hatchery, we recreate as natural a nest as possible. The temperature of the nest is very important – the pivotal temperature is 29°C, with lower temperatures resulting in predominantly male hatchlings, while higher temperatures result in predominantly female hatchlings. The community member is then paid a RM10 per egg reward – which is 5–10 times higher than the amount an egg can otherwise be sold for on the black market. As of the end of 2015, more than 4,500 baby sea turtles (both green and hawksbill) have been successfully released on our beach. We have recently launched the Adopt a Turtle initiative to help the hatchery become self-sustaining.
The Mabul Beach Resort Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre was launched in May 2015, during Scuba Junkie’s Turtle Week.
This centre provides facilities that enable the comfortable housing of sick or injured sea turtles, whereby they can receive necessary treatment and care before being returned to the waters around the Semporna region.
The project has involved experts from the very start – reptile vets and the Gaya Island Turtle Rehab unit, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the Sabah Wildlife Department.
2014 saw our inaugural, annual Turtle Week – a week of activities aimed at raising awareness of sea turtle conservation issues worldwide and generating vital funds for their conservation locally. We managed to raise a grand total of RM7,500 (USD1,700) for turtle conservation!
Coral reef conservation
Coral reefs cover only about 0.2 percent of the world’s ocean floor, yet over 90 percent of marine species are either directly or indirectly dependent upon them. They not only support enormous biodiversity, but they are also of immense value to mankind. Latest estimates suggest coral reefs provide close to USD30 billion each year in goods and services. Coral reefs have survived tens of thousands of years of natural change, but many of them may not be able to survive the havoc brought by mankind: Roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat.
Scuba Junkie is a Reef Check certified dive company with four trained Reef Check instructors. The course is offered as part of our Eco-Divemaster programme, as well as being offered as a stand-alone course for both guests and staff. In the past year, we have completed over 60 reef check surveys in collaboration with WWF and hope to take this a step further by announcing our in-house Reef Check survey programme that will monitor 36 sites annually.
We also have an artificial reef programme which aims to establish proven coral cultivation techniques for our local area. Our master plan is to remove the current artificial structures from in front of the SJ jetty and replace them with structures to which we can attach coral fragments that allow the development of new natural coral reef systems.
Even though fish bombing is banned in Sabah, it is still a major threat. To try to help local authorities, we have been reporting fish bombs over the past few years. In 2015, we were very honoured to assist Shotspotter in trialling new technology aimed to help mobilise an immediate response and to put an end to fish bombing in the area once and for all.
Throughout the year, we like to provide opportunities for our guests, the local communities of both Mabul and Semporna, local and international schools and universities, and businesses to learn more about conservation issues, both locally and globally. We endeavour to provide weekly presentations on varying topics, fundraising pub quizzes and documentary showings. We hope that by sharing our passion for the marine environment we can help to spread the word and make a difference.
Since March 2015 we have been working very closely with a local community group called Green Semporna. What started out as two passionate volunteers has now turned into an organisation with over 50 active volunteers from nine different school groups in Semporna. As well as doing amazing work by themselves, including anti-fish bombing roadshows and conservation presentations in local schools, they are also at the forefront of our local community engagement. In January 2016, we were very proud to host the inaugural Malaysia Green Leadership Camp (MyGLC) at our Mabul Beach Resort. During this event, volunteers learned from experienced conservationists and developed new programmes for Green Semporna to drive over the next couple of years.
In 2015, we also signed a partnership agreement with Kolej Komuniti Semporna.
This Kolej trains students so they are better equipped to work in the tourism industry.
Scuba Junkie has offered to help introduce the students to their local marine environment, ensuring they understand just how special the waters of the Semporna region are and what they need to do in order to protect their oceans. We also offer training to students who wish to pursue a career in the dive industry.