Sav­ing Tur­tle Cove

Asian Diver (English) - - What Bubbled - By: Sharon Kwok, ADEX Ocean Am­bas­sador 2015–2016

I was born in Hong Kong, a unique is­land that used to be a glo­ri­ous fish­ing port un­til the re­cent fish­eries col­lapse. In Jan­uary 2013, trawl­ing was banned and since then, we have no­ticed a re­bound in some species.

But much more needs to be done in or­der to pro­tect the lo­cal cetaceans and sea tur­tles that mi­grate through our waters.

Hong Kong is host to 5,943 marine species within its 1,651 square-kilo­me­tre waters. It is home to more than a quar­ter of all recorded marine species in China, has more hard corals than the Caribbean Sea, and more man­grove tree species than East In­dia. Over 10 years ago, stud­ies car­ried out by the Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Con­ser­va­tion De­part­ment claimed that at least 10 per­cent of our waters needed pro­tec­tion in or­der to sus­tain our fish­eries and con­serve marine bio­di­ver­sity. Yet, till now only two per­cent of our marine habi­tats are par­tially pro­tected.

Sham Wan, also known as Tur­tle Cove, is lo­cated at Lamma Is­land and is one of the few re­main­ing nest­ing sites for sea tur­tles in South­ern China. The site is es­sen­tial to the sur­vival of this highly en­dan­gered species in both lo­cal and re­gional con­texts.

Sea tur­tle deaths are mainly at­trib­uted to three causes: con­sump­tion of in­di­gestible trash; en­tan­gle­ment in drift nets; and col­li­sion with mo­torised ves­sels. Be­fore nest­ing on sandy beaches, fe­male green sea tur­tles mate in shal­low waters, usu­ally at the sur­face. This is when they be­come most vul­ner­a­ble to ves­sels.

It is my hope to turn Tur­tle Cove into a Hope Spot – part of Mis­sion Blue’s in­ter­na­tional con­ser­va­tion cam­paign to recog­nise and sup­port eco­log­i­cally unique ar­eas of the ocean des­ig­nated for global pro­tec­tion. Pre­vent­ing ex­tinc­tion is de­pen­dent upon hav­ing ar­eas of nat­u­ral pro­tec­tion to main­tain bio­di­ver­sity as we know it for our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

TOP RIGHT: Sharon hold­ing a young al­bino tur­tle. These tur­tles don’t stand much of a chance in Nature and are kept in a fa­cil­ity ABOVE: A tur­tle hatch­ling that was raised for a few weeks in a Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment fa­cil­ity be­fore be­ing...

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