Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is an archipelagic nation that is blessed by the Almighty God with an array of flora and fauna, several of which are categorized as "iconic species."

According to the Ocean Health Index, a valuable tool for assessing ocean health, iconic species are "animals or plants which are important to cultural identity as shown by their involvement in traditional activities."

Indonesia is home to several iconic species, one of them being the sea turtle. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia has also reported that six of the seven living species of sea turtles that scientists recognize can be found in the country.

According to the WWF Indonesia`s official website, four of the six species of sea turtles -- green turtles (Chelonia mydas), "belimbing" or leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), "sisik" or hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and "lekang" or olive Ripley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) -- lay their eggs on several of the country`s coastal areas.

The WWF Indonesia further noted that the Indonesian waters are also the most important migratory route of sea turtles at the crossroads of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Abun Sub-district`s coastal areas in Tambrauw District, West Papua Province, for instance, are known as the largest nesting spots of leatherback turtles in the Pacific region.

The Derawan Islands in East Kalimantan Province are recorded by the WWF Indonesia as the biggest nesting spots of green turtles in Southeast Asia.

In Java Island, Trisik Beach in Kulon Progo District, Yogyakarta Province, is also known as the green turtles` nesting spot.

Head of the Abadi Turtle Conservation Agency at Trisik Beach Jaka Samudro revealed on Wednesday that the number of sea turtles reaching the beach has increased significantly this year as observed from the existence of 17 nests.

The nests had at least 1,700 eggs. This number sharply increased as compared to 800 recorded last year, Samudro remarked.

Samudro explained that the progress was achieved as a result of moving the location of shrimp aquaculture rearing from Trisik Beach to the northern areas following the recent giant waves that hit the coastal area.

The 17 nests of sea turtles at the Abadi Turtle Conservation Agency`s site has been frequented by tourists on the weekend, he noted, adding that the agency`s volunteers were trained on ways to become good public campaigners.

"We have frequently received upgrading programs on preserving the sea turtles, so that we are competent in sharing knowledge and information on the turtles," Samudro stated.

In response to the conservation efforts being undertaken at Trisik Beach, Head of the Yogyakarta Natural Resources Conservation Agency`s Conservation Unit Untung Suripto said conserving the sea turtles necessitated public awareness and participation.

Hence, all community members, including businesspersons, should be engaged in public campaigns on conserving turtles and several other endangered animals.

Education tourism, which the Abadi Turtle Conservation Agency at Trisik Beach has been running, will help rectify the people`s behavior and boost their knowledge on sea turtles as well as the locals` economy, he stated.

The Trisik coastal area has frequently been visited by green sea turtles for laying eggs, but predators and irresponsible people tend to take the eggs. The sea turtles were also affected by the noisy and light conditions, he pointed out.

In addition to high sensitivity to light that may cause blindness in sea turtles, the US Government`s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries also pointed out to the dangers posed by marine debris and trash to the survival of these animals.

Hence, marine debris and trash in oceans should be reduced to prevent the sea turtles from getting entangled in them or accidentally consuming the waste.

The NOAA Fisheries also suggests that removing "recreational beach equipment, such as chairs, umbrellas, and boats at night" is also helpful for preventing the sea turtles from turning away.

Considering the importance of possessing proper knowledge of the nature of sea turtles, Head of the Yogyakarta Natural Resources Conservation Agency`s Conservation Unit Untung Suripto said educating the locals and visitors is undoubtedly necessary.

The Kulon Progo district government and all related elements in society are expected to participate in the conversation efforts, one of them being by respecting and enforcing the existing regulations.

Shrimp breeding in aquaculture and mining activities around the coastal area should be stopped since they may endanger the sea turtles` habitat. At the same time, both locals and visitors are continuously educated about the nature of these animals.

Reporter: Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Yosep Hariyadi
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