Journalism Team / October 25th, 2020 / Episode 2
Pak Yusri’s Turtle Buddies
The special part about his efforts in turtle conservation is that he did it in the most natural way possible.
Imagine having to walk 3-5 km every night to scan the shoreline, searching for any sign of a female turtle laying eggs. That’s what Pak Yusri must do in order to save the dozens of eggs that had just been laid. These eggs are like the baguette of Polewali Mandar, they are very popular in terms of local cuisine. Unfortunately, as many of us know, the numbers of turtles in the wild are dwindling down at an alarming rate. Accompanied by this fact, and his fondness of the sweet creature, Pak Yusri decided to dedicate his time and effort to save the turtles of Pantai Mampie.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
The type of turtle he mainly deals with is Lepidochelys olivacea or Olive ridley sea turtle. This species prefers an open sand area to lay the eggs and dig the egg chambers until around 60 cm in depth. Although this means the eggs are generally safe from the damage made due to tree roots’ growth, it puts them at high risk of hunters seeking their appetizing taste. Olive ridley sea turtles are considered the most abundant in the world, but its population has decreased by more than 30-50% and is categorized as endangered species. It is also said that it’s the most exploited species of turtles. Such exploitation mainly comes in the form of consumption by humans.
The special part about his efforts in turtle conservation is that he did it in the most natural way possible. He relocated the eggs to a safer place as soon as they were laid by the mother because he only had 6 hours until the eggshells hardened thus risking the eggshells breaking. In comparison to some conservation programs, the hatchlings were released as soon as they hatched without prolonged confinement. Hatchlings have their own food reserve, like an egg yolk, which would run out in 2 weeks. Hatchlings go into a “swimming frenzy” right after they hatched in order to reach an open ocean area which is relatively safe distance from predators. Now, that would be a problem if the hatchlings were kept on land for more than 3 days to a week because it could significantly decrease the food reserve they’d have left when they were finally released. Therefore, they wouldn’t have enough food reserves to live in the wild and reach an open sea where they would begin to eat whatever’s near. Essentially, some turtle conservation efforts tend to keep their hatchlings in prolonged confinement because they tend to focus more towards the tourism and commercial side of things and instead of ensuring the turtles’ survival, they put the hatchlings in danger.
The ABC’s of Pak Yusri’s Efforts
With little knowledge of the animal at the beginning, Pak Yusri broke a sweat to help preserve turtle’s eggs from the hunter and the threat of shoreline abrasion. He decided to protect the egg chambers with net fences and a sign and set up an adoption system for the eggs. The benefactor or the egg’s “foster parent” paid 300 thousand IDR to Pak Yusri to adopt the eggs and he would contact the foster parent when the eggs were about to hatch. The foster parent only had 2 days to come and release the baby turtles themselves before they were released by Pak Yusri to prevent harming the hatchling and its survival capabilities. One third of the donation was given to a volunteer who was willing to guard said egg chamber until the eggs hatch naturally, which could last for almost two months. In the year of 2018, only two benefactors came to help Pak Yusri and even with the shortage of funds, he still managed to help a fisherman who got into an accident to cover his medical expenses though accompanied with a loan from a local cooperative. The fisherman was indeed a frequent helpmate of Pak Yusri’s who often saved turtles in need.
Taking The Extra Mile
Daily, Pak Yusri and his wife make crackers or, as we call it, kerupuk and sell it to food stalls and shops where 10% of its profit went to the turtle’s conservation effort. They persist even with traditional tools and methods of making them. These crackers are also a tool to help spread the message of their goal of saving the turtles as its brand is called “Sahabat Penyu”. Although they have a limited amount of 3 million IDR in the treasury, they still venture to help fishermen with their broken boat engines. Meanwhile, in 2019, they managed to raise 5 million to reward fishermen who helped save the turtles.
NOAA. n.d. Olive Ridley Turtle. [online] Available at: <https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/olive-ridley-turtle> [Accessed 26 September 2020].
Pak Yusri Monitoring the Nest
Source: Pak Yusri's personal album
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Pantai Mampie
Source: Pak Yusri's personal album
Spreading awareness of turtle’s conservation becomes his passion also. Pak Yusri wrote articles about their efforts in protecting the turtle’s population to gain the public's attention and, hopefully, the Ministry of Fisheries themselves. He urged the government and local people to realize the urgency of the issue. He even planned to go to Polewali Mandar’s Educational Office to have kindergarten buildings be painted with turtles as a form to familiarize children and maybe, make them love the turtles as much as he does. He also organized competitions in the “Rumah Penyu” and had “Ngobrol Pintar” or “Ngopi” there with the local youths to discuss various topics relating to turtle conservations.
Pak Yusri Raising Awareness about Sea Turtles to the Youth
Source: Pak Yusri's personal album
From Donation to Protection
The government did help with building facilities. However, their effort in helping Pak Yusri’s causes wasn’t thought through and was relatively ineffective; the problem arose when Pak Yusri was low on funds to maintain the facilities thus the facilities they’ve built turned out to be another weight on Pak Yusri’s shoulders as he struggles to pay the maintenance cost.
KATYA SHAMIRA D.
Bioprocess Engineering 2019
We highly encourage you to lend a hand by donating to his aim of saving the turtle’s population in Pantai Mampie. Your donation will of course help with the facilities maintenance, prevention of hunters, and a team of researchers along with Pak Yusri’s own living expenses. We bet the cute baby turtles would be grateful as well.
Bioprocess Engineer 2019
Journalism Team / September 4th, 2020 / Episode 1
Vacuuming the Ocean
The Ocean Cleanup Technology
Have you ever thought of running the ocean water through a sift just to
take all the garbage out? Well, this is that on a much larger scale.
Marine pollution has become one of the world’s concerning environmental problem. Currently, there are over five trillion pieces of plastic littering the ocean. If left to circulate, the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health, and economies. To solve this problem, a non-profit organization based in Rotterdam called The Ocean Cleanup is developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s ocean of plastics. Founded in 2013, The organization has come with a system that are estimated to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years at a fraction of the cost. This is how it works:
The Ocean Cleanup Technology has been designed to do the hard job of concentrating the plastic first, before it can be effectively removed from the ocean. The system consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and skirt that hangs beneath it. The floater provides buoyancy to the entire system, while the skirt prevents debris from escaping underneath and leads it into the retention system. A cork line above the skirt prevents overtopping and keeps the skirt afloat.
Create a Coastline Where There Are None
To save energy, the cleanup system relies on natural forces to navigate the patches – a feature that also increases its survivability in the harsh ocean environment. Both plastics and system are being carried by the wind, waves, and current. However, to catch plastics there needs to be a difference in speed between the system and the plastics. Using a sea anchor to slow down the system, plastic can be retained and captured.
Take Advantage of Natural Oceanic Forces
The Aforementioned Cleanup System.
Concentrate The Plastic and Take It Out
The combination of natural forces and a sea anchor create a drag, which also acts as a stabilizing force, allowing the system to re-orient itself when the wind changes direction and because the system- like the plastics-is free floating, it automatically drifts to the area with the highest plastic concentration. The system is filled with solar-powered lights, anti-collision systems, cameras, sensors, and satellites antennas which made the system actively communicates its position at all times and continuously gathers performance data. Periodically, a support vessel comes by to take out the concentrated plastics like a garbage truck in the ocean. The plastic is then transported to land, recycled, and made into
The floating systems are designed to capture plastics ranging from small pieces just millimeters in size, up to large debris, including massive discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), which can be tens of meters wide.
Models show that a full-scale cleanup system roll-out could clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years. After fleets of systems are deployed into every ocean gyre, combined with source reduction, The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.