Conservation group protecting, breeding hawksbill turtles

National

By JOSHUA MANI
A MARINE conservation initiative is protecting blue and hawksbill turtles in the Coral Sea.
Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative (CICI), a conservation group formed in 2017, built a hatchery on Panasesa, Conflict Islands in Milne Bay, to provide a safe breeding place for the species to prevent extinction.
Eggs of the reptiles are found and relocated to the facility.
The protection exercise contributes to the conservation of the Coral Sea reef habitat and its connection to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which forms a pristine marine ecosystem.
According to CICI, the blue turtles are marked as “endangered” and the hawksbill turtles are marked as “critically endangered”.
Through the hatchery, the turtle species are given a high chance of survival without the threat from poachers, predators (sharks, fish and crabs) and other environmental factors.
Successive batches of turtles have been released from the facility since its establishment in 2017, with the first batch released into the sea on Jan 10, 2017.
Turtles are released at varying ages, ranging from newborn to one-year-olds.
A release checklist based on health, swimming ability and eating habits is used to determine whether a turtle is ready for a release.
Turtles released within the first few days are released onto the sand and allowed to walk into the water.
Older turtles are released in deeper water.
Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative takes in researchers and graduates to work at its facility and contributes to conservation and knowledge of the marine world.

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