DSKL saves a Hawksbill Turtle

5 07 2010

It was the perfect day for snorkelling for the students of Deutsche Schule Kuala Lumpur on Pulau Tioman, not a cloud in the sky and the sun in our eyes as the song goes. However, as the students swam towards the coastal mangroves of Tulai, something appeared to be floating in the waters right in their paths. It was an illegal fishing net 7m long, strategically positioned just outside the mangroves to capture fish returning to the reef with the tides. The area 2 nautical miles around Pulau Tioman is designated a Marine Park and Tulai falls within that radius and hence no fishing should be done there.

“There’s a turtle, there’s a turtle! Oh no is it dead?” Jule Zuber of DSKL exclaimed as she gently lifted a flipper, having spotted the carapace floating among the net. A gorgeous juvenile hawksbill turtle about 35cm across had been entangled. Thankfully, this little guy was entangled at the surface and did not drown. In fact, the distressed turtle responded to Jule’s probing with futile little finning motions against the thick tangle of the net.

Biologist Ling fetched a knife and together with the help of the kids and biologist Jana, managed to cut the poor exhausted turtle loose and return it to Mother Nature’s embrace, amidst cheers from the students of DSKL

The fishing net was brought back to the boat and with the help of DSKL kids, two crabs, still very much alive, were released as well.



Hawksbill turtles have been hunted extensively for their shells which make attractive tortoise-shell jewellery, brushes, eyeglass frames and rings. In some parts of the world such as China and Japan, the hawksbill turtle is also eaten as a delicacy. So badly decimated are the hawksbills that these turtles are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Fortunately for this juvenile hawksbill turtle, it lives to see another day thanks to the alert students of DSKL.