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Leatherback Turtles Return
Story and Photos by Wiwat Pandhawutiyanon
Click to Bigger     Mai Khao is a fishing village on the Andaman coast of Phuket Island. Between November and February of each year, leatherback turtles would come up to lay their eggs on the 8.5-kilometer long beach. The average of 5-10 nest holes together containing over a thousand eggs has drastically decreased in the past decade. People thought the turtles were forever extinct from Mai Khao. But villagers started a conservation fund and began sending volunteers to "turtle walk" along the beach, collecting eggs to hatch them in a safe place and making sure the beach was safe for mother leatherbacks.
    These volunteers included teenagers who have hardly seen a leatherback in their lives and elderly fishers who, in the past, have "turtle walked" for countless eggs to sell but are now among the village's foremost conservationists. All this happened with a simple commonsense, a care, as one group leader says "the year we didn't take care of the turtles, that year they wouldn’t come up to lay their eggs." In the latest nesting season, as many as nine nest holes were found with as many as 931 eggs total.
Click to Bigger     The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest reptile roaming the seas. A fully grown adult can reach a length of 2.6 meters and weigh as much as 800 kilograms. Their characteristic shell is a thick black skin with seven raised ridges running along its length. Their front flippers are almost as long as their bodies and are the propelling powers behind their seasonal migration which can take them several thousand kilometers.    
    Their mysterious life cycle, their leathery skin-shell that is prone to infection, and their vulnerability to marine pollution and commercial fisheries make leatherback turtles a difficult species to raise and to study. Leatherbacks have mistaken plastic bags, styrofoam and balloons as jellyfish and eat them. They are also often entangled in anchor lines and trapped by fishing trawlers.
    Mother leatherbacks have a biological clock that "remembers" the region in which they were born. After 25-30 years, they return to lay their eggs at their birthsite-that is, if we haven't changed it too much.
 สนับสนุน หรือ คัดค้าน
เงินกู้, ADB และแผนปรับโครงสร้างภาคเกษตรกรรม
โครงการ ขุดคอคอดกระ ฝันดีหรือฝันร้าย ของนักลงทุน
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Ten Years' Fighting for the Mun River | Leatherback Turtles Return | Sikkim and Years of Change on the Himalayan Ridges
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