Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sea turtle sanctuaries in Irrawaddy Region cut in half: researcher

Thursday, 16 August 2012 15:05 Thit Nyein

(Feature) – After one decade, Burmese sea turtles can no longer can be found in many turtle sanctuaries in Irrawaddy Region, according to researchers.

“About 10 years ago, they [sea turtles] came to about 50 sanctuaries. After a decade, they came to aaround 27 sanctuaries,” said a researcher who studies the turtles and their habitat.

A sea turtle with a monitoring device attached to the top of its shell.

He said conservation research is limited to places which can be easily reached, because others are very difficult to reach.

The three main reasons why sea turtles have disappeared from the sanctuaries is that their death rate has increased, and many sanctuaries have been degraded by natural disasters and an influx of people’s homes into the sanctuary areas, according to an official with the Marine Turtle Conservation Research and Information Center in Kadonkani in Bogalay Township.

“In Bogalay, originally, turtles came to five sanctuaries. Now, they come to just three sanctuaries. Earlier they came to sanctuaries in Higyi Island, now they no longercome,” said the official.

Earlier, Thameehla Island in Irrawaddy Region had five sea turtle sanctuaries, but after Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in 2008, sea turtles could be found in only three sanctuaries, according to a research center official.

“The cause was the natural disaster. In the Tsunami and Nargis cyclone, sandbanks were degraded. Stone layers appeared. So turtles did not come. Two islands have been submerge,” he said.

There are four sea turtle sanctuaries along the Rakhine coast, nine in Irrawaddy Region, three in Mon State, and about 15 in Taninthayi Region.

Six of seven species of sea turtles in the world are commonly found in the Southeast Asia. Five species of sea turtles can be found in Burma.

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