The Queen’s Sea Turtle Conservation Project
Concerned about the rapid decline of sea turtle populations in Thailand, Her Majesty the Queen Sirikit initiated the “Queen’s Project on Sea Turtle Conservation” in 1979. On the 11th of August of that year, Her Majesty donated her island property named Koh Mannai to the Department of Fisheries, for the establishment of the project. In 1985, the project was transformed into the “Sea Turtle Conservation Station”. Since 2003, the station has been operated by the Department of Marine Costal and Resources (DMCR) through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Kanokwan Homcha-aim, the Senior CSR Coordinator for the Absolute World Group, was invited by the Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center of the Eastern Gulf of Thailand to visit The Queen’s Sea Turtle Conservation Project on Koh Mannai in Rayong Province from 23-27 June 2014.
The present project at the Sea Turtle Conservation Station has three main objectives:
1. To increase the number of sea turtles in the wild by protecting eggs in a hatchery. The hatchlings are reared for a certain period before being tagged and released into the ocean to replenish natural stocks.
2. To keep some adult turtles for breeding stocks, as well as to rescue and treat stranded or injured turtles.
3. To promote and disseminate information and technical knowledge about sea turtle conservation and breeding.
The Sea Turtle Conservation Station includes turtle tanks, a Marine Learning Center and a breeding lagoon. The lagoon is based on a water flow concept, and work to build the permeable concrete wall began in 1986 and was completed in 1988. The beach enclosed by the lagoon is used for sea turtle nesting.
Currently, the Sea Turtle Conservation Center homes 48 adult breeding turtles and 750 8 month old baby turtles. Every year, the station conducts many activities in order to conserve sea turtles including awareness-raising, educational activities, and the sharing of technical knowledge. The station also organizes an annual “Sea Turtle Release” activity in mid-April during the Songkran Festival, which is also the Thai New Year. This event aims to promote sea turtle conservation and to increase awareness by encouraging fishermen and members of the local community to participate.
Khun Nok was animated while recanting her experience:
“It’s not easy to get to Koh Mannai in the monsoon season. However, with experts from the station and only several participants who were seasick, we made it safe to the island. I felt so special to have this great opportunity to visit this interesting place. I helped the staff clean turtle tanks. I learnt a lot about how awesome of a creature the sea turtle really is. I admire the staff’s hard work on this tiny island and their effort to conserve sea turtles for our future generations.”