Turtle Hatchery constructs wave breakers from scrap tyres to prevent further erosion and save turtle hatchlings
According to the New Straits Times, in Malaysia, Farina Ashrin (Along), Farisa Azira (Angah) and Fadhil Izzuddin (Alang) who run the Hatchery’s Wave Breaker 2.0 programme carried on their father’s legacy as the guardian of Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery, a private hatchery located along the beachfront of Pantai Chendor, Pahang, Malaysia, in the hope to construct wave breakers using scrap tyres.
Organised by Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery, and supported by The Kasturi, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Pahang and Fuze Ecoteer, along with volunteers and friends (of the Hatchery), their mission is to construct wave breakers from scrap tyres to prevent further erosion on Pantai Chendor beach in Pahang, on the east coast of Malaysia.
The group place tyre after tyre, neatly in rows on the sand, tying them together with sturdy ropes.
Fadhil Izzuddin is intent on continuing his late father’s legacy. He said: “We’ve never faced such a huge erosion problem like this before.” He adds: “It’s our humble effort to contain the elements.”
“We can’t afford to build those expensive stone walls. Constructing barriers using used tyres is the cheapest way for us to manage the problem of those destructive waves that cause coastal erosion.”
The strong erosion normally occurs towards the end of the year, around November and December, he shares. So it is surprising it came a lot earlier. “January was bad, and it got worse during the Chinese New Year period,” elaborates Fadhil.
He added: “It has become a race against time. If we don’t do anything now, by the time the monsoon arrives at the end of the year, the erosion may reach the hatchery and wash away the eggs.”
A lot of money has been spent by the team at Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery on buying the eggs. If the eggs can’t be hatched, then the hatchlings will not be able to be released into the sea.
It’s therefore imperative that the hatchery can still be where it is, until at least the hatchling release season is over.
According to Fadhil, they can’t just move the nests whenever they want in the face of the impending threat. But they can do something to make it tough for the “enemy” to attack.
“That’s why we decided to create these simple — but effective — wave breakers,” he says.
It’s not cheap to build the kind of structures that have been proven to be effective in mitigating shoreline erosion, such as rock revetments, which serve to dissipate the energy of storm waves and prevent further recession of the backshore.
Shore-protection structure using scrap tyres is, as Fadhil reiterates, the most affordable means, considering that the Hatchery simply doesn’t have the budget for anything more sophisticated.
“We’ve never done anything like this because we’ve never faced such a serious erosion problem before.” said Fadhil.
The idea for using scrap tyres came out of the blue, admits Fadhil. He had gone to visit several jetties to see what they’d put in place to combat the erosion problem and after considering their budget, he decided that used tyres could be the answer.
Fadhil said: “I’ve seen something like this done along rivers. But for the beach, I’m not sure.” He added: “I recall seeing tyres floating in the water. During low tide, the tyres would just remain in place but there’d be a lot of sand trapped inside. Some even had mangroves growing out of them. That made me think that perhaps I could adapt it for our Hatchery.”
Continues Fadhil: “I knew we could get the tyres. After all, they’re discarded stuff. I just needed to get a lorry, collect all the tyres and bring them here. Bayar duit kopi jer (just pay a small fee). The costliest thing would be the ropes. I also knew we’d need a lot of manpower to help us do this. It’s definitely laborious work.”
During the first Wave Breaker programme (Wave Breaker 1.0), more than 800 tyres were successfully tied using 5km of rope.
Wave Breaker 2.0 has turned out to be a big success, says Fadhil, with a large turnout of volunteers.
Fadhir said: “We had 114 volunteers on the first day of the programme. On the second day, there were 60 people,” He added: “We had volunteers from MNS Pahang, Fuze Ecoteer, The Kasturi, the Drug Intervention Community, IIUM Kuantan, KUIPSAS (Kolej Universiti Islam Pahang), Turtle Conservation Society, Yayasan Pahang and many more. Thanks to these volunteers, we managed to tie 1,705 tyres using 11km of rope.”
The biggest challenge, other than the costs, is time. “Once, we ran out of rope before all the tyres had been tied. I remember rushing to the shops but they were all closed. That same night, I did manage to get more rope but wasn’t able to do anything as the tide had come in.”
Noor Jehan Abu Bakar, MNS Pahang chairperson and supporters of Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery said: “We believe it’s all due to climate change. The water level has risen a lot higher than we expected. We predicted about 1 to 3cm of increase every year but we see that it’s headed more towards 5-6cm instead. It has become quite unpredictable.”
“By which time, we REALLY need to move it — not a major relocation but at least to slightly safer grounds. Due to the erosion, some parts of the hatchery have already disappeared. We need to prepare for the worse,” she said.
“The locals have become friends with those at the hatchery — something that was a big challenge in the early days. It took time to be accepted.”
Jehan continues: “We’ve been on this land for the last three to four years already. We’re part of the community and we also give back to the community. For every tourist that comes and releases the eggs here, we give back. At least RM2 for every person. We make our money here, give back to the community and they help us by looking out for our hatchery.”
To contact the hatchery, email: firstname.lastname@example.org