Jul 26, 2011

Algorithm for Handedness Detection of Fiddler Crabs

Members of the genus Uca are generally known as Fiddler crabs for the overgrown claw of the males. The following algorithm detects a male fiddler crabs handedness from a photograph. The algorithm was implemented using Matlab R2009a.

Jul 23, 2011

JTP Turtle Talk (4)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Meet Jo, a 5 year old green sea turtle that we take care of. Jo was born in our hatchery in 2006. When we went to release her in the sea with her other brothers and sisters, she was found running in circles on the sand because of a weak arm. That's when we realized that something is wrong with her and a close inspection also revealed that she has no eyes. She was born this way probably due to some kind of genetic or developmental anomaly from mistreatment of the egg while transfering from the original nest. A turtle without eyes will not survive in the ocean or on land. This is just natures way of making sure that only the fittest individuals survive. So by keeping her in our sanctuary we are not tampering with the natural course here.

JTP Turtle Talk (3)

Part 1
Part 2

The way we try to protect turtle eggs is by bringing them to an enclosed hatchery until the baby turtles hatch. This is not ideal, it is much better to leave the eggs in place where they were laid, but that is not possible here now. Still a hatchery should always be viewed as a temporary feature, not a solution. It is better to have the entire area protected and not need to take, or hide, the eggs.

Jul 22, 2011

JTP Turtle Talk (2)

Part 1

So what do we do at JTP ? We focus on sustaining the turtle population, habitat defence and raising awareness. This brings us to understand and work with the nature, people, economy and politics of this island. We are not hippies or treehuggers, we are working toward a specific goal here. We work toward not having to run a conservation effort like this because people will be conscious and protective of nature around them and wild life in the area including sea turtles.

JTP Turtle Talk (1)

Charlie doing the turtle talk

I volunteered in the Juara Turtle Project for a month in June 2011. Every morning and evening we would give a 45 minutes long 'Turtle Talk' to interested tourists, followed by a tour of the hatchery and a chance to meet Jo - the blind Gree turtle that JTP have been taking care of since 2006.

Jul 17, 2011

Map of Mentawak Beach

Juara Turtle Project is a sea turtle conservation effort at the Juara village of Tioman island in Malaysia. Currently they are monitoring three beaches on the east coast of Tioman. Depending on tide schedule, the conservationists at JTP take turns patrolling the Mentawak beach every night.

I surveyed the Mentawak beach while volunteering at JTP for a month. This map of Pasir Mentawak(Mentawak Beach) is based on the GIS data collected through out June 2011. High-tide line, low-tide line, vegetation line along with some important geographic features and landmarks are shown on this map. A Garmin Etrex GPS receiver was used for data collection. These low cost GPS receivers being sand and water resistant are ideal for the job IMHO. An open source graphics editor, Inkscape was used to plot the map. The image posted in this blog entry is a low resolution bitmap. Vector version in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format or a PDF file is available upon request.

Jul 12, 2011

Plants can damage sea turtle eggs too

Any sea turtle conservationist in charge of a hatchery should watch out for animals that can dig. Dogs, crabs, lizards, rats, snakes etc. animals are natural threat to eggs in any sea turtle nest on the beach and they will gladly play the same role against secondary nests that have been set up in a hatchery. Although it sounds incredible, trees can also damage the eggs by growing roots around or into the eggs.

In a recent excavation of a secondary nest in Juara Turtle Project, some eggs were found damaged in this way. While some of the eggs were completely entangled with the roots growing all around, others were found damaged by the roots breaking the shell and growing into the egg.