Image Courtesy of National Geographic
Whenever I find a spot that helps the little guy out, my heart melts a bit. So when I found out that the Juara Turtle Project was just ‘down the beach’ from Tim’s beach shack, I was pretty excited to check it out. Although there were no hatchlings at the time of my visit I did get to ‘meet’ Jo, a blind rescued sea turtle, and the man behind the operation, Charlie, who is passionate about the protection of these ocean creatures.
Sadly I learned that the sea turtles could find themselves extinct in as little as 50 years due to rapid human expansion and lack of conservation laws in turtle nesting sites. To add to this there seems to be little to no government support in protecting these little guys, and so NGO’s like JTP are running on volunteers and private donations alone. What is even more shocking is Juara beach is one of only five remaining nesting sites in all of Tioman, an island which use to be a hot bed of turtle activity!
Image Courtesy of Juara Turtle Project
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
Aside from sea turtles being super cool (you’ve seen Finding Nemo, right?), they are actually critical to our ecosystem. Once they hit the sea they graze the sea floor and munch on the sea grass, by doing so they help increase the growth of the sea grass which helps the fish get frisky – as the sea grass is critical for breeding and development for countless other marine life (fish, shellfish and crustaceans)! Without the maintenance of the sea bed, in particular by the green turtle, the result would be a devastating loss in numerous marine species.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are several reasons for the diminishing population of sea turtles: imprecise fishing methods, marine debris, beach development and bright lights, black market trade of turtle products, and of course, climate change. Helping is pretty easy too!
If you’re interested in really getting your hands dirty, the Juara Turtle Project is always looking for volunteers! There are so many things they need help with that all are welcome from various backgrounds and experience, as long as you’re keen on helping the turtles, learning and willing to dive in then you’ll be a welcomed pair of hands. You can even be a Hatchery Manager intern – how cool is that!?
Plus! You get to stay on one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen.