88 river terrapins were released today at 9 am in Tebing Pasir Penarik in our simple but meaningful 4th Terrapin Independence Day. It was attended by villagers and kids from Kampong Mangkuk, students and teachers from Sekolah Menengah Agama Atas Sultan Zainal Abidin and some staff and M.Sc. students from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. I gave a short briefing to the students before the release.
The three year-old terrapins (hatched in 2005) had an average weight of 1.9 kg (range of 0.5 to 2.8 kg) and an average straight carapace length of 24 cm (range of 14 – 33 cm). The final measurements of all the terrapins were made by Nurul, Fong and Zam.
After the release, we adjourned to Rani and Lina’s house for breakfast and presentation of hampers to villagers who have sold eggs to the project in 2008. We had invited all villagers who have participated in the project since its inception in 2004, but only 12 out of the 32 invitees came. However, all the kids they had brought along helped to make up the crowd and finish the food we provided .
Sean from the New Straits Times interviewed the villagers and I shared hatching and other project data with the villagers involved in the project.
The event was assisted by Nurul, Fong, Zam, James, Seng Chee and Asmadi, our driver. Rani brought the terrapins from the cages in Beris to the release site.
After the event was over, James, Seng Chee and myself left for the Setiu River to track the terrapins that were released earlier with transmitters deployed on them. It was indeed a long and tiring day.
The photographs used in the post were taken by Zam (pictures 1 to 4) and James (pictures 5 to 9).