KOTA KINABALU: Hundreds of bones from dead sea turtle carcasses were found scattered in some bushes on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna here today.
The discovery was made by a team from the State Wildlife department investigating a report about dead sea turtles being spotted on a beach on the island.
State Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga said the bones were found near Kampung Pantau-Pantau, Kampung Amboh-Amboh and Kampung Sampolan on the island.
Augustine said initial investigations reveal the turtles may have been poached by the Bajau Laut or Pala’u community, sea gypsies who roam the seas, as they have been seen in the areas previously.
"They do not live in the area but always on the move by boat. We have identified some suspects and investigation is continuing," he said.
"Further investigation into coastal villages around the island revealed that the poaching activities has been going on for quite some time,” he said adding the team found over a hundred bone fragments of dead turtles at the three beaches.
On the report about the dead sea turtles that went viral on social media, Augustine said the team found one dead turtle in the vicinity.
“The other carcasses may have been washed away,” he said but investigations will be conducted on the report also.
The wildlife department was assisted by the Semporna police, Sabah Park, WWF and Omadal Island Women Association.
Tuuga believed the species involved was green turtle based on viralled photos of the carcasses.
Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are protected under Schedule 1 of Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
Sabah has recorded several cases of mass dead turtles washing up onto its shores, including two incidents in early 2014 where 60 carcasses were found in the Pulau Tiga waters off Kudat, while another four at Pulau Bum-Bum.
In March 2015, authorities again discovered 19 green turtle carcasses in Pulau Tiga waters that were believed to be the result of a failed attempt to smuggle the animals alive.