Sea turtles have graced earth’s oceans for well over 100 million years, covering vast distances and playing a vital role in maintaining the balance of marine habitats. They are among the gentlest and most beautiful creatures on the planet, with the leatherback turtle even acting as the state icon of Terengganu, one of Malaysia’s hottest tourism spots.

However, turtle sightings and beach nestings have dwindled considerably over the years. The once-iconic leatherback turtle is virtually non-existent to natives of Terengganu. Moreover, the overall number of sea turtles continue to dive to critically low numbers.

Determined to address this issue, a group of impassioned Malaysians have banded together to launch a #BringOurTurtlesBack campaign. This campaign is a collaborative effort between The International SeaKeepers Society, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), and Kapas Turtles. Local content and production house Pinang Films and 360 communications agency VoxEureka have also joined in to fight for this just cause.

These groups have come together with a single united goal in mind – to save as many sea turtles in Malaysia as possible.

“The turtle has long been an icon for Malaysia and its tourism industry – and for good reason too. Seeing the number of sea turtles continue to drop every year is heart-breaking, which is why we need to act now before they are beyond saving. Achieving this goal won’t be easy, but it is something we should not give up on. We dream to return to the glory days when turtles would nest on Malaysian shores every other day. We want to bring them back,” said Gail Tay, Director of Operations & Programmes, The International SeaKeepers Society Asia.

Through this campaign, the team behind #BringOurTurtlesBack aims to raise RM150,000 that will go towards these four objectives:
  • Hatchery Research - A designated research assistant will be hired to collect and analyse valuable data pertaining to turtle breeding and release, which will empower more informed strategies toward conservation efforts for the long run.
  • Educational programmes in 10 schools - Organise outreach and awareness programmes to a minimum of 10 secondary schools in Terengganu, facilitated by UMT lecturers on the importance of turtles and the health of marine ecosystem to the environment as well as the economy.
  • Habitat monitoring - Funds raised will be used to monitor and collect information on the health status of coral reefs and marine habitats around the islands. Surveys will also be conducted periodically to monitor benthic community abundances and other environmental parameters, particularly on coral reefs as they serve as a crucial feeding source and habitat for turtles and many more marine organisms.
  • On-Ground Community Event - Other than that, the #BringOurTurtlesBack team will also host an on-ground community event from 14th till 16th July 2022, to engage visitors and the local communities of Kuala Terengganu. Activities that will take place during the event are a community beach clean-up, a turtle sand sculpture contest open to the public, a sand sculpture showcase by Ikhwan Saloot, and educational programmes throughout the event.

While this initiative will go on through mid-July, the team behind #BringOurTurtlesBack recognises that protecting turtles is a long-term journey. Join us in our efforts to bring our turtles back so that we and the generations to come will be able to witness our treasured sea turtles.