Endangered leatherback turtle returns to Rantau Abang in Terengganu after seven-year absence

The landing was discovered by a traditional turtle egg collector Hasang Husing while combing the beach at about 6am on Sunday (Sept 10).
The landing was discovered by a traditional turtle egg collector Hasang Husing while combing the beach at about 6am on Sunday (Sept 10). PHOTO: TURTLE BAY DIVERS

DUNGUN, TERENGGANU - For the first time since 2010, a leatherback turtle has returned to nest at what used to be a popular nesting site in the Terengganu state, reported local media.

The first landing in seven years of the endangered species to the Rhu Cikgu beach in the village of Rantau Abang has got everyone excited, reported New Straits Times.

The landing was discovered by a traditional turtle egg collector Hasang Husing while combing the beach at about 6am on Sunday (Sept 10).

Hasang said he was walking along the beach and saw turtle tracks leading to a spot where he discovered a fresh nest.

"The track seemed to have been created by a big and heavy animal. I have not seen such tracks for a long time," added Hasang who had been collecting turtle eggs for some 30 years.

He alerted the Fisheries Department to his discovery and officers from the Rantau Abang Turtle sanctuary have since confirmed that it is the nest of a leatherback turtle.

State Fisheries director Zawawi Ali said the leatherback had laid 93 eggs and the animal was expected to return to lay five more times between Sept 19 and 30.

"The same female is expected to lay some 450 eggs. This is truly exciting since we have not had this opportunity for so many years," he said.

"This is an exciting find as it proved that some of the leatherback turtle hatchlings released some 40 years ago have reached maturity and are returning to the same beach where they were hatched.

"We will be monitoring the beach to ensure that the return of this leatherback is not disturbed," he said adding that his officers would be patrolling the beach to protect the nest from predators, including poachers.

Zawawi said the eggs had been retrieved and relocated to the incubating site nearer to the sanctuary. They should hatch in about 60 days.