Not able to leave their homes during the Movement Control Order, members of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Pahang got a shock to see how much of the beach in Chendor had eroded during the period.
The erosion was so bad that it reached the edge of the Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery where 25 green turtle nests were located.
“It was shocking. We knew that if we don’t put a stop to the erosion, the nests would be carried away by the next wave or destroyed,” said MNS Pahang chairman Noor Jehan Abu Bakar when contacted by Rojak Daily
Jehan said that moving the nests were also out of the question as once planted, the delicate eggs could not be unearthed as a change in temperature could hinder them from hatching.
“To build a wall would cost money. We didn’t have that much money. We are MNS. We’re an NGO, so initially, we thought of just stacking up gunny sacks filled with sand, but the salt water from the sea would rot the bags too fast,” she said.
A feasible suggestion
Suggested by some local fishermen, the NGO decided to put up a wall of used tyres that would trap sand and act as a wave breaker to prevent further erosion.
Just to let you guys know, erosion was a new obstacle faced by the group as the tide was never that high in the area.
“The waves and tide only started getting higher last December.”
“It was also a race against time because everyday when the tide came in, a little bit more of the beach and the ledge close to the hatchery was taken away,” said Jehan.
On the planning of the operation, Jehan said it took about a week to get things sorted.
"The tyres were sourced by the hatchery’s caretaker Alang.”
“That was fairly easy because people wanted to get rid of their used tyres,” she said.
The snag to the whole operation was the purchasing of the ropes.
“We had to ask around and scrape out money from our own pockets because the rope alone cost us RM2,000,” said a confounded Jehan.
She said that even during the operation, they had to repeatedly remind volunteers to use the rope sparingly because they did not have funds to purchase more.
People came out to help
“We had a total of 75 volunteers. MNS Terengganu and MNS Selangor even sent a few reps to come down, but most of them came from people nearby lah
. People from Kuantan, people from Kemanan,” she said.
Tying together two layers of tyres took two days of hard work under the hot, hot sun.
“Most of the tires were so worn out that the wires and treads were poking out and hurting the hands of participants as they tied them."
“The tyres also got extremely hot because it’s black and absorbs the heat from the sun. I remember tying beside one male volunteer who exclaimed 'masak telur aku nie'. It was THAT hot!” laughed Jehan.
The group tied 800 tyres into two layers during that short period.
“We took turns, one group would tie a row and then soak in the water to cool down, and then the next group would start, and we would rotate."
“By the end of it our thumbs were throbbing and cramped, but we put aside everything and just did it for the turtles,” she said.
Work not over yet
Jehan said that the current wave breaker would do but another layer needs to be added in August.
“We need more volunteers to come forward, and we welcome people who want to contribute ropes or money to buy ropes,” she said.
After the third layer is done, the temporary tyre wave breaker should last until after the turtle hatching season is over.
“Once the season ends, we will move the hatchery further away from the water,” said Jehan.
Jehan added that MNS Pahang conducts all sorts of activities at the Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery
including releasing turtles in August, conducting training for marine biology students and holding educational visits to the area.
“We appreciate any support towards our turtle conservation efforts which we have been doing for the last six years,” she said.
If you’re interested in volunteering (cause you’re awesome, and you love nature), head on over to MNS
Don't think twice k. Just go and be part of this uber-cool gang!