Many beaches and near shore reefs along the coastal areas of PNG are
home to marine turtles. While turtle conservation programs have been
initiated in a few parts of PNG, large areas although significant in
nature lack turtle conservation programs. It is in these areas that
local consumption of turtle for eggs and meat go on without saving some
of these turtles and eggs. Mas Kagin Tapani Inc., a local CBO based
in Madang began mobilising communities in Madang in 2007 to save the
critical endangered leatherback turtles that were nesting on their
beaches. These beaches are situated to the northern side of Madang
towards Bogia. The first Turtle Conservation workshop was organised
by the Makata Inc and hosted by the Karkum Community of Madang. The
workshop ran from September 19th – September 23rd 2009 and the target
audience of the workshop included Madang community members and
representatives from Community based organisation. There were 40
participants at this course. This workshop introduced participants to
basic marine biology, turtle tagging and monitoring, developing work
plans to address turtle conservation and education and awareness on
turtle conservation and other marine issues. A second workshop was
undertaken in Magubem Village, Madang with a total of 40 participants
and ran from the 1st – 6th of October 2012.. This training workshop
was the second of its kind and a follow-up of the activities and
interests generated so far in turtle conservation and management with
the Madang Communities. The Communities have indicated that they wish to
go one step further in turtle conservation and begin to develop action
plans to tag and monitor nesting turtles during the nesting season.
Hence this training workshop was carried out to meet their requirement.
This follow-up trip was basically to take the theory and put it into
practical by patrolling the nesting beaches to tag turtles and document
Day 1. 7th November 2012 The marine turtle
specialised arrived at Magubem Village at 2.00pm from Port Moresby via
Madang. He met with Peter, Chairman of Gildipasi CBO. They arranged to
meet with the rest of the beach rangers from the main 4 communities the
next morning. Meanwhile plans were made to begin the exercise later
that evening. The specialist then briefed Peter and a few selected field
rangers from Magubem Community to start patrolling the nesting beaches
that night. Equipment were then checked and laid out. These included the following: • Turtle tags and applicators • Turtle datasheet and clipboards. Pencils. • Torches and batteries • Measuring tapes (3 mtr in length) • Raincoats (in the event of rain) The Magubem team started the patrol at 8.00pm and ended at 2.00pm. The weather was overcast and there was slight drizzle.
No nesting turtles were encountered. However the team came across the
tracks of a green turtle. It seem the green turtle came and did some
crawls on the beach but did not nest. We believe the sand substrate was
too hard with some small pebbles hence no nesting took place.
Further on down the beach the team came across an old leatherback nest
which has been dug up by some locals and eggs taken. The nest seems to
be about a month old. At 1.30pm the drizzle was getting bigger and
heavy drops of rain were felt, hence the team had to abandon the patrol
at 2.00am and head back to Peter’s hamlet (where the team were housed).
Day 2. 8th November 2012
On day 2 the specialist and the beach rangers gathered at the Magubem
Community hall and the specialist went over turtle tagging and
monitoring protocols for the team The following topics were covered: • Sites for beach patrols • Turtle species to target– Leatherback turtle and green turtles • Tagging methods and the part of the turtle to tag. • Demonstration on use of tags and applicator • Turtle data sheets
The session lasted the whole morning with questions and answers and
clarification on all aspects of the turtle research. At the end of the
session the team felt that it was ready to undertake beach patrols and
start turtle tagging and monitoring program.
After the overview
of the above topics the equipment were brought out and divided into the
4 major beach groups corresponding to their area and beach.
The team then left for their respective areas. The teams made a commitment to begin their programs at night.
The Magubem team (with the turtle specialist) were to cover the nesting
beaches that came under the Magubem community, However this did not
eventuate as there was heavy rains beginning in the afternoon and
lasting all night. The heavy rains stopped the team from going out at
night to patrol the beaches.
Day 3. 9th November 2012
Early the next day, the sun was shining so the Magubem team including
the specialist took a walk along the nesting beaches to check if any
turtles came up to nest. After a long two kilometre walk along the beach
no signs of nesting were noted on the beach, hence we concluded that no
turtle came up to nest on the beach last night. After checking the beach the team went back to basecamp and went over notes and tagging equipment. Later on in the afternoon the team prepared for another beach patrol. After dinner and equipment check the team left for the beaches at about 8.00pm.
The team started at the mouth of River Dibor and walked northwards
along the beach. There was almost 100% cloud cover hence no stars were
noted. The tide was coming in and huge waves were pounding on the beach The team spend about 8 hours on the beach patrolling up and down. However no turtles were encountered. At about 4.00am in the morning the team decided to call it a night and headed back to the base camp.
Day 4. 10th November 2012 On the morning of the fourth day the beach rangers met again and had a review of the past nigh activities.
Plan was again made to coordinate work with the other beach rangers
from the other groups so they could patrol in synchrony throughout
their own beaches and meet at a central point through the night so that
this would ensure all sectors of the long beach was covered. Turtle
information and beach census data from the research work onwards will
be collated and sent to the turtle specialist to document and report on. The specialist then left for the Madang.