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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


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Tue 02 May 2006

Nicolas Pilcher launches IOSEA Year of the Turtle 2006 in Singapore

Category : bejc

02 May 2006 - Nicolas Pilcher launched the IOSEA Year of the Turtle 2006 programme in Singapore when he addressed an audience of researchers, educators and interested individuals from Nanyang Technological University, National Parks Board, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, Underwater World SIngapore, Blue Water Volunteers, The Hantu Blog, Nature Society (Singapore), Bintan Resorts, National University of Singapore's Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Department of Biological Sciences and other groups. [See seminar notice.]

On a stop over from Papua New Guinea where he is involved in a turtle conservation project, he gave an informative and enjoyable talk that began with an overview of turtle biology. He brought to life many issues like the fact that young nesters who lay eggs in Singapore's beaches now probably first left these shores as hatchlings in the 1970's!

Hatchlings drift between 5-10 years as opportunistic pelagic feeders in the open ocean and spend another 5-15 years as coastal feeders before finally migrating to engage in courtship and egg laying in their beaches of origin. In Singapore, most of the originating beaches would be unrecognisable and many might not even exist!

With this and other aspects of turtle biology laid out, the audience could better appreciate the lessons behind some of the specific problems resulting from development or even misguided research and conservation efforts, including some seemingly benign hatchery efforts.

Emphasising a need for a holistic or ecological perspective in turtle conservation, Nicolas later shared some practical ideas for education and fund raising, using both good and bad experiences from his efforts in the past decade or two. And from observations of many efforts elsewhere, the heartfelt suggestion to start small and set out very specific targets.

He had a lot more to say and after a Q&A and casual discussion, the Year of the Turtle 2006 Singapore Committee (YoT2006) hijacked him for a lunch meeting kindly sponsored by our missing host and chairman C H Diong who had been called away to a workshop in Taiwan. Nicolas' talk was so stimulating that Prof Peter Ng (director of Raffles Museum), who was chairing the session, asked me to bring him back next year for the conservation biology class; and the title might possibly be "Turtle Sex and Environmental Prostitution." I can see the student queuing up to attend that one.

I also hope to persuade him to share anecdotes then about the turtle rodeos that have researchers hurl themselves from speeding boats into hard-hitting water to wrestle turtles into an upright position to ge picked up by the boats. All this to glean badly needed fecundity data from these gender-ambiguous creatures!

YoT2006 hatched plans for the year ahead over lunch (at Raj's in Centros, Biopolis), with several of us continuing until the late afternoon at Biopolis - this was a rare opportunity for many of us from the various agencies, groups and organisations to meet and discuss developing issues, so we made full use of it. There is an active marine education community in Singapore and Nick's talk for the Year of the Turtle 2006 launch will help catalyse synergistic efforts for added impact.

Thanks for the seminar, Nick!

Posted at 10:48AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,