Dugongs and Turtles on the Deep Mine Endangered Island

  • Gelam Island is a small island with an area of ​​28 square kilometers . Gelam Island is part of the Kendawangan conservation area zone, Ketapang Regency , West Kalimantan, according to the Management and Zoning Plan [ RPZ ] for the Coastal and Small Island Conservation Area, Kendawangan Small Island Park, Ketapang Regency in 2019 and published in 2020.
  • A number of islands in the Kendawangan conservation area are turtle habitats. Including Gelam Island and Cempedak Island. Apart from turtles, it is also a living home for dugongs, seagrass beds and stretches of mangroves in the coastal areas of the island.
  • So far, in West Kalimantan only Kendawangan has the potential to become dugong habitat because it has shallow waters and seagrass beds, as well as a high level of water clarity.
  • Two quartz sand mining companies received exploitation permits on Gelam Island, Kendawangan District, Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan . It is feared that this condition will damage the habitat of existing dugongs and turtles.

Dugongs and Turtles on the Deep Mine Endangered Island

Dul Ahyar [70], is a Kendawangan fisherman who has only lived on Gelam Island for a month. His body still looks fit. Dul said he had seen dugongs while looking for fish around Gelam Island.

"If you're caught, never do it . "Usually I see dugongs or dugongs in Malang Buaya and Malang Duyung," he explained, when met in October 2023 on Gelam Island.

Malang , meaning stone. Malang Buaya is located in front of Gelam Island and fishermen often see crocodiles. Meanwhile, Malang Duyung is not far from Gelam Island.

The name Gelam comes from the trees that form the ecosystem around the island. Gelam wood is usually used to make ships.

Another fisherman, Samsul [41], admitted that he had seen dugongs around the waters of Gelam Island . This island is the main destination for Kendawangan fishermen looking for lobsters and ranjungan. Located in the coastal area of ​​Kendawangan District, Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan, Gelam Island has a variety of biodiversity such as mangroves, seagrass beds, and dugong habitat.

Dugongs are shy, semi-solitary marine mammals, that is, they do not form groups and usually only gather with their young.

“Before there was a ban, if you accidentally caught a dugong it would be eaten. "Now, if you are accidentally caught, you will definitely be released," he said.

Dwi Suprapti, marine Megafauna Specialist , said that the existence of seagrass beds around the island makes dugongs stay. “If there are seagrass beds, it doesn't necessarily mean there will be dugongs. "When dugongs want to live there, it's a stroke of luck."

Dugongs are also a fertilizing factor in the seagrass ecosystem through the way they eat and excrete waste. When searching for food, dugongs "hoe" the sand around the seagrass, thereby removing nutrients and making the soil fertile. Seagrass seeds that come out of dugong droppings grow new seagrass.

“The more fertile the seagrass, the more people can use it. Especially small fish, as a spawning ground and humans also benefit."

Dwi emphasized that dugongs have iconic value and are a rare population. When the dugong still appears, it means he has not been disturbed.

It's still comfortable in that place

Sekar Mira, a researcher from the National Research and Innovation Agency [BRIN], highlighted the importance of understanding the exploration of marine mammal resources on Gelam Island, including the presence of dugongs.

“The condition of marine mammals reflects the local environment for better or worse.”

Research into the ecological value of seagrass is also Sekar's focus. Seagrass also functions as a nursery ground , namely a special area of ​​water that supports the reproduction and early growth of fish species and other living creatures. Sekar also highlighted the role of ecosystem corridors, connecting pathways between natural habitats, which support the movement of various species.

“ Nursery g round refers to special areas of water such as coral reef habitats, seagrass beds or mangroves. Meanwhile, ecosystem corridors function to provide pathways for the movement of various species and allow genetic flow between isolated populations."

Sekar emphasized that losses occurring in seagrass habitat must be balanced with compensation approaches, such as defining alternative areas that can maintain ecosystem balance. Thus, a deep understanding of the ecological value of seagrass and appropriate compensation measures are the keys to maintaining the environmental sustainability of Gelam Island.

Based on the Kendawangan Coastal and Small Islands Zoning Plan [RPZ], the area of ​​seagrass beds in the western part of Gelam Island is around 1,211,434 hectares and 238,075 hectares in the northern part. The types of seagrass are Enhalus acoroides, Thalassia hemprichii, Cymodocea serrulata, Cymodocea rotundata, Halodule uninervis, Syringodium isoetifolium, and Thalassodendron ciliatum with the dominant type being Enhalus acoroides .

Meeting d ugong

Data from the WeBe Foundation, a conservation, ecotourism development and community empowerment organization in Ketapang, shows that since 2020 until now there have been 36 dugong encounters in all Kendawangan waters, including on Gelam Island. Most are dead.

Their patrol team consists of members of the tourism awareness group [pokdarwis] together with the community around the island.

“This is long-term assistance. We have been active since 2014. "Whether there are dugongs or not, we will still move," said Setra Kusumardana, Director of the WeBe Foundation.

Pokdarwis member, Soehendra [33], explained that patrols are carried out every day, at the same time fishermen go to sea. In a month, Pokdarwis can meet dugongs 5 ​​to 6 times.

Pokdarwis' latest report, a dugong was accidentally caught in a fishing net, Udin, on December 11 2023. Location in Pasir Merah, Bawal Island, weighing 30 kg and 80 cm long. When found, the dugong was alive and immediately released.

Threatened turtles

In September 2022, the WeBe Foundation found turtle egg shells on Gelam Island, Kendawangan Kiri Village, Kendawangan District, Ketapang, West Kalimantan. It is believed that the shell was left over from an egg that failed to hatch.

“The findings prove that it is increasingly difficult for turtles to reproduce. "Moreover, surviving in the midst of being surrounded by heavy equipment and metal left over from mining excavations," continued Setra.

There is no official data from the West Kalimantan Maritime and Fisheries Service [DKP] on the exact population of green and hawksbill turtles on Gelam Island. However, according to fishermen, turtles can be found around small islands in Kendawangan waters, such as Gelam Island, Cempedak Island, Gambar Island, and even Bawal Island.

This is the reason Kendawangan waters have been confirmed as one of five conservation areas in West Kalimantan since 2020. Other conservation areas are Randayan Island Small Island Park [Bengkayang], Paloh Coastal Park [Sambas], Kubu Raya Coastal Park to the Kubu Raya and North Kayong Aquatic Conservation Areas.

This determination is contained in the Decree of the Governor of West Kalimantan No. 193/DKP/2017 concerning Reservation of Coastal and Small Island Conservation Areas in West Kalimantan Province. This is reinforced by Regional Regulation no. 1 of 2019 concerning the Zoning Plan for Coastal Areas and Small Islands of West Kalimantan Province 2018-2038. Until 2021, a quartz sand mining permit was issued on Gelam Island.

Salmin [41], a fisherman on Cempedak Island, said that most turtles were found in his place. On Gelam Island, turtles can only be found in the water. Since the introduction of mining equipment, turtles have never been seen on land.

"You could say, turtles are increasingly difficult to find on Gelam Island."

On Cempedak Island and Gelam Island, according to the Webe Foundation report, it is a stopover for green turtles [ Chelonia mydas ] and hawksbill turtles [ Eretmochelys imbricata ].

"Green turtles are recorded as permanent residents, especially for laying eggs," said Setra.

Many efforts have been made to protect the ecology and habitat on Gelam Island. From complaints, petitions to reports to the West Kalimantan Regional Police to make the mine no longer operational.

"This is an effort by the community and foundations to protect the environment," he said.

Hawksbill and  green turtles  are protected species based on the Decree of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number: P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018 concerning Protected Types of Plants and Animals.

"You can imagine that if their habitat is damaged due to mining exploitation, their population will be greatly disrupted.

Threatened by the quartz sand threshold

Currently, Gelam Island is facing threats due to the granting of quartz sand mining business permits . Based on reports from people involved in the mining industry, there are 150 excavation points with a depth of up to 6 meters.

According to the Geoportal of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources [ESDM], there are two companies, namely PT. Sigma Silica Jayaraya [SSJ] and PT. Inti Tama Mineral [ITM], which has obtained a Mining Business Permit [IUP] in the exploration stage and a Mining Business Permit Area [WIUP] covers almost the entire Gelam Island.

Part of Kendawangan is designated as a protected area based on the Minister of Forestry Decree No. 174 of 1993. In addition, in 2020, the Decree of the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries designated the waters and surrounding islands as Conservation Areas in Coastal Areas and Small Islands.

However, Gelam Island is also included in the core zone and limited use zone, according to the previously mentioned policy. Mapping data via Google shows that the area of ​​Gelam Island is around 28 square kilometers, so it can be categorized as a small island based on its size.

Hartono, a resident of Cempedak Island who spent his childhood on Gelam Island, objected to the entry of mining companies.

"Several years ago, before oil palm companies entered Bawal Island, from east to south the seagrass was very thick. Now, all that remains is the Cymodocea serrulata type . "So far our thinking is that after the company existed, it started to break down," he said.

Arie Antasari Kushadiwijayanto, UNTAN Marine Science Lecturer, said that massive mining activities will add suspended material in the water which can endanger the ecosystem.

"Especially the release of sediment into the sea, which will automatically be affected around Gelam Island because the core zone is in the water area. "We don't know the percentage of ex-mining sediment, it depends on the amount of elements released, so there could be heavy metals that are actually naturally occurring."

Arie added that there could be substances in the soil that were carried away during the mining process.

"If the sediment releases radioactive substances, the consequences are likely to be quite large, especially if it enters the ecosystem, which can cause the death of coral reefs, seagrass beds and aquatic biota. "This needs further research," he explained.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post