At around 6am yesterday (Nov 17), local authorities from tambon Khok Kloi in Phang Nga informed the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) that traces of a sea turtle were found at Bang Khwan Beach, said Atthaphol Charoenchansa, Director-General of the DMCR.
Having arrived at the beach, officials found the said traces on the sand up from the sea and back. The tracks measured about 220cm across, with the drag marks indicating that the turtle shell measured about 110cm wide.
Having searched the area, officials also found the turtle nest and carefully dug it, discovering 118 eggs. Of them 106 were fertile and in good condition.
As the nest was in the part of the beach where it could be damaged by the surf, officials moved all the eggs to a safer area.
The new nest was complete with a fence for protection from animals and people, CCTV cameras and thermometers to monitor the ’incubation process’. Normally, sea turtle eggs hatch within 55-60 days.
Mr Atthaphol confirmed it was the first time a turtle has laid her eggs on Phang Nga shores in this year’s season.
Joint effort brings fruit
The DMCR chief also added that specialists are now witnessing proper return of sea turtles on Phuket and Phang Nga beaches with more of these animals being spotted and more nests being found each season. If in 2018/2019 only three nests were found, in 2021/2021 the total already hit 18.
In early 2021 local DMCR even recorded recurrent visits of a ’super mother turtle’ named Alpha, who visited the shores several times to lay a lot of eggs (read here).
This is compared to zero turtle nest findings for five years from 2012 to 2017. Mr Atthaphol attributed the disappearance of sea turtles to active beachfront development in Phuket, as well as irresponsible fishing and marine pollution, including discharge of plastic waste and old fishing nets into the sea.
Mr Atthaphol praised the continuous joint efforts by the private and public sectors to support marine life protection and conservation, especially the sea turtles. He called for the business, government and people to continue their good job.
“The involvement of all sectors has led to success in conservation and rehabilitation of the leatherback turtle population in Thailand. Yet this may be just the beginning of the road. Our further work requires constant efforts to maintain and protect the environment to be suitable for habitation and spawning of sea turtles. We need to reduce the threat factors, such as marine debris. This is critical to sustainability in the conservation of sea turtles,” Mr Atthaphol said.
The DMCR chief reminded that in 2016 local hotels, government agencies and public organisations signed a pact for marine fauna conservation with special emphasis on protection of sea turtles. The treaty was signed by the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, the DMCR and various business partners.
A special ceremony was held in Mai Khao to mark the signing of the memorandum as well as celebrate the grand opening of “The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation”, an on-site Turtle Shelter and Education Centre located at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa.
In 2020 parks chiefs in Phuket and Phang Nga jointly called for hotels and other beachfront businesses to create turtle preservation zones to protect turtle eggs being laid along west-coast beaches.
In Phuket, the suggested areas included Nai Yang Beach, Mai Khao Beach and Sai Kaew Beach in the northern part of the island (some 14km of shoreline in total).
In February 2021 an olive ridley turtle was found laying eggs on Mai Khao Beach in Phuket, for the first time in more than 20 years.