Nine sea turtle nests have been discovered in Cambodia, the first such case in the country in a decade. The discovery raises hopes among environmentalists that these species have not completely disappeared from Cambodian waters. Do sea turtles really have a chance to return to these parts of the world?
Sea turtles – will it be possible to stop the extinction of the species?
In the scenic waters of Cambodia’s southwest coast, on a remote island in Preah Sihanouk province, environmentalists have made a groundbreaking discovery that offers hope for success in the fight for the survival of critically endangered sea turtle species. After more than a decade of fruitless searching, a team of ecologists from Fauna & Flora International finally found nine nesting turtles, including the tortoiseshell turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), species on the verge of extinction.
This discovery not only indicates the possibility of reversing the population decline of these reptiles in Cambodia, but also marks an important point in the protection of marine biodiversity worldwide. The nine nests, which can contain up to a thousand eggs, provide hope for a new generation of turtles that can contribute to the recovery of these species’ populations.
Extinction of sea turtle species – there is a breakthrough
Volunteers from the Royal Cambodian Navy, who are stationed on the island, played a key role in the discovery. Trained by Fauna & Flora to monitor the presence of sea turtles, they made a finding that offers hope, despite the sad statistics. Data indicate a global decline in sea turtle populations, mainly due to hunting, the illegal shell trade, expanding tourism, pollution and climate change. Already in 2019. has calculated that humans have killed as many as 9 million tortoises in the past 180 years, and fishing and poaching pose a direct threat to the species.
Ecologists’ evaluation of the hatchling’s effectiveness showed an exceptionally high success rate, suggesting that the beaches on the remote island provide an ideal environment for incubating turtle eggs. Such a high hatching success rate is rare and underscores the importance of protecting these valuable habitats. The discovery underscores the difficulties faced by young turtles. It is estimated that only one individual in a thousand will live to adulthood, highlighting not only the miracle of life, but also the brutal reality that these species must face in their struggle for survival.
They are eager to stop the extinction of the species
Since 2009, Cambodia has banned the catching, marketing and consumption of sea turtles in response to global calls to protect these endangered species. Despite the restrictions, violations of the law continue to occur. The consumption of turtles, although it has become a less common phenomenon, is still observed, despite the high toxicity of the meat of some species. Some local communities continue to consume the meat of these sea creatures, ignoring both the legal and health consequences of such actions.
However, more and more Cambodians are noticing the problem and taking steps to change the situation. Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) is a non-profit organization and, in cooperation with the Cambodian government, is taking action to protect marine life. It has already implemented, among other things. Marine Fisheries Management Areas (MFMAs) with an area of 11,500. hectares off the coast of Kep and installed underwater protective structures. These efforts are aimed not only at protecting turtles, but also at restoring entire marine ecosystems, which are crucial for sustainability and biodiversity. Conservation activists would also like to establish an MFMA in the Koh S’dach archipelago in Koh Kong province, where the ongoing privatization of islands, construction of artificial beaches and bays is severely damaging corals and seagrass. So far, to no avail.
The Asian Development Bank, which in December 2022 approved a $71 million project to regenerate 40 percent of Cambodia’s coastal fisheries, also wants to halt the negative trend of destruction of the natural marine environment. This project could help protect various species, including just sea turtles.
Sea turtles – you need to act globally
The discovery of sea turtle nests in Cambodia is an important reminder of the power of nature and how small efforts can lead to significant change. It also represents a call for global action to protect all marine ecosystems. Protecting sea turtles and their habitat is not only a moral obligation, but also an essential element in the quest to preserve the health of our planet.