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Turtle festival coming up!

The past few months have flown by again and Yayasan Pulau Banyak has been very busy in preparing our first Turtle Festival for the 15-21st of June 2010!

 The TURTLE FESTIVAL 2010 (FESTIVAL PENYU 2010) is part of the Eco-tourism Programme by Yayasan Pulau Banyak sponsored by the Spanish AECID. This festival will help promote Pulau Banyak within Indonesia and its neighbouring countries.

 The TURTLE FESTIVAL 2010 is about local culture, awareness of environment and the turtle conservation, and of course to have fun. It is a non-profit event.

 Take the opportunity to see and support something very special. Together we can make this fabulous archipelago one of the best eco-tourism destination in Indonesia.   The Festival is arranged by the local people of Pulau Banyak and supported by the Regent of Aceh Singkil, the Governor of Aceh, and Ministries in Jakarta. All are enthusiastic and have already promised funds for coming years. .   


 For an entire week visitors and TV-viewers will witness many unique and fun events, together with famous artists and important national community leaders. Opening ceremony together with our Turtle Ambassadors;  Deddy Mizwar and Asrul Dahlan. Mr. Deddy Mizwar is the most prominent Indonesian actor, director and producer. Mr. Asrul Dahlan is the young coming movie star of Indonesia. Both of them support the turtle conservation by becoming Turtle Ambassadors.  During the opening ceremony there will be a “Kenduri Laut”, a traditional offering to the sea, and a religious speech about the environment. 

  •  National artists will perform during the festival week, for example the popular Dangdut singer Maya Kdi and a Pop group from Jakarta (under negotiations).
  •   Traditional dancing from all the villages in Pulau Banyak and from neighboring  places, like Simeulue and Singkil.
  • A BlogSpot competition, open for everyone. Visit www.festivalpenyu2010.blogspot.com
  • Fishing competitions, booth “Mancing (Fishing) Mania” and traditional fishing.  
  •  A turtle opera by children and story telling for children by a professional story teller
  • Competitions in poetry, speeches about environment, environmental essays, etc.
  •  Competitions between schools and villages in cleanliness.
  •  Competitions in traditional games.
  •  Swimming, free diving, and other sports events.
  • Paddling traditional canoe, kayaking, and other competitions.
  • Mini exhibition with photos from all over Pulau Banyak and information from different community groups.
  • Many activities; try kayaking, picnic to neighboring islands, round trips and eating the freshest and best BBQ fish you can get.

 festival penyu2

Building camp and capacity!

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Since September Yayasan Pulau Banyak has been developing Pulau Bangkaru as a true base camp with all amenities for staff and international volunteers. The new base camp has finished which provides great facilities such as an office for data analysis, comfortable sleeping quarters for patrol staff, a fully equipped kitchen and meeting area. Below pictures show how the previous base camp has been improved to the recent version to suit the sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme.

Old basecamp buildingNew basecamp

Due to Pulau Bangkaru is such a remote island, it is more then necessary to give staff the skills to deal with health and safety issues when they arise. A full certified first aid course has been taught on site to our staff members and volunteers. This allows not only confidence while handling an emergency situation, but also skills for staying healthy and watchful in a remote area without close proximity of hospitals or doctors.

First aid training

The monitoring programme has shown some light on the migration of the sea turtles after they have nested on Bangkaru. A tag return from a green turtle who was caught by fishermen near Siberut island, shows that some turtles tend to migrate southwards. The application of satellite tags at the start of 2010 will shed more light on migration routes. These will be the first sea turtles tagged in Sumatra.

To add to the uniqueness of Pulau Banyak, camera trapping and casual observations have shown exciting encounters. Colugo, migratory birds (rare on mainland Sumatra) and mouse deer are numerous in the pristine forests.


Next months we will work on a project with fishermen to eradicate fishing with cyanide in the islands.

Teachers focus on fragile forests and reefs at risk


Although June to September record less numbers in turtles compared to the other months, social programmes have seen a peak in the coastal community of Pulau Banyak.

After completing the waste management assessment last month, the foundation has tackled environmental education, training in kayak tours and GIS mapping.

All 3 activities are of major importance at all different levels of the organisation.

The ‘training for teachers’ programme commenced on the 7th of June and included 50 participants from all over Pulau Banyak. Teachers from kindergarten, lower, middle and high schools as well as youth group representatives were present during the training that lasted for 2 weeks. Participants were taken into the field to teach the interpretation of environmental education in practice. Previous to the field work, workshops were conducted to provide background information on rainforests and coral reefs. Without bringing home the importance of the natural recourses in a practical way, the message would not have been brought across as effective as it has now! The participants all enjoyed learning more about their “own” environment and received a certificate accredited by the education board, the foundation and an Australian education programme provider.



Simultaneous to the education programme, Abdul Halim, a professional sea kayaker, trained our local kayak team on the ins and outs of kayaking with tourists in the archipelago including health and safety, repairing and servicing the boats purchased by the foundation for developing the kayak activity.

Ruben Venegas and Lucia Morales, assisted the forestry department and Yayasan Pulau Banyak in GIS mapping of the islands in order to determine appropriate zonification for eco-tourist activities and fisheries. This information will be used by the forestry department to implement in government management plans and our foundation will use it to develop a comprehensive eco-tourism management plan for the region.

Work towards a cleaner Island

When asked the question, “What are some of the most urgent problems that must be solved?” the community of Pulau Banyak replied: Garbage. The indecomposable hand of plastic trash has reached every corner of the globe, including the beautiful, remote islands of Pulau Banyak. The urgent need of implementing a proper waste management program is not only shared by the people living there, but can be felt when plastic bags are dragged along the beach under the flip flops of eco-tourists. The effects of trash does not end on land.  The effects of solid waste buildup are obvious on delicate coastal ecosystems including coral reefs and seagrass beds, which are essential habitats and spawning grounds for countless marine organisms. Pieces of floating trash is commonly mistaken as food and ingested by animals such as marine birds, sea turtles and sharks, sometimes leading to the death of these organisms.


Stomach contents of a Leatherback (Photo by P. Richardson)


Entanglement in trash poses a serious threat to turtles worldwide. (Photo by D. Chacon)

We have taken the first step towards an effective solid waste management by compiling a report (Solid Waste Management Plan) based on a detailed field survey conducted by a waste engineer. This report is currently under review, and a plan for implementation is currently underway. The outcomes of this project will speak for itself.

Congratulations Maggie!!

2009 has already shown many achievements, including the preparation and development of eco-tourism programmes, developing an environmental education programme in collaboration with Natura education, and Maggie Muurmans was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious international Future of Nature award.

The Future of Nature award, previously known as the Golden Arch award, is handed out to three dedicated individuals to honour their creativity, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of species protection and conservation. British TV presenter and documentary maker Sir David Attenborough presented this prestigious award. This award worked magic for the promotion of our project; the achievements of this project were covered in the news, interviews, and talk shows over four Broadcasting companies. Below is a clip of an interview of Maggie done by Sir David Attenborough. Enjoy!

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An eco-tourism programme started this February, and already it has attracted over 25 curious individuals. Local community members were trained for jungle trekking and kayak journeys, both of which are major attractions for this programme. However, sensitive areas such as nesting beaches for sea turtles are managed carefully in order to ensure minimal environmental damage to Pulau Banyak.


Within the past few months, we have been in collaboration with Natura education (NE) to develop a more comprehensive environmental education programme for local children around the age of 11. The programme focuses on coral reef and rainforest, and lesson plans are being developed as we speak. The first training visit has been scheduled for June.
We appreciate your continued support. Thanks!

Short film on Pulau Banyak

An introduction to Pulau Banyak and its turtles, edited by Ed Snijders founder of the North Sea Film Festival. Watch the nesting process from a green turtle from start to finish. Ed will be visiting Pulau Banyak in February to shoot a documentary about the project, watch this space!

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Turtle tastic 2008!

Newsletter December 2008

2008 has nearly come to an end and we are looking back at a year packed with turtle conservation and community activities. With this post attached our new edition of Suara Pulau (Voice of the Islands) filled with updates on our current activities and achievements. If you are interested to be added to our mailing list to receive this e-newsletter regularly, please let us know through our website www.acehturtleconservation.org.

Conservation declaration printed and distributed

As reported in the prvious blogpost the leaders of the Aceh Singkil Regency (District), which includes Pulau Banyak, signed an important document. The Regent, the heads of police and military, the chairmen of the regency parliament, the public prosecutor, the civilian court, the board of Muslim council, and the Muslim court all signed their support for seven points proposed by Yayasan Pulau Banyak. This blog post sets out the declaration points:

In short, the declaration points out that:

1.      It is forbidden to catch turtles or to collect their eggs, to catch Dugong, Mouse deer and Birds.

2.      It is forbidden to fish with explosives and poison.

3.      It is forbidden to catch, sell and buy aquarium fish.

4.      It is forbidden to use nets on the western side of Pulau Bangkaru within 12 miles from the beach, as this is a turtles mating area.

5.      It is forbidden to cut down mangroves.

6.      It is forbidden to use corals in building projects.

The declaration has now been printed and distributed all over Pulau Banyak.

Sea protected in front of nesting beach



Right on time, when most urgent, at the start of the leatherback nesting season and wake for the green turtle season, the Pulau Banyak Foundation managed to declare the sea in front of the nesting beach as protected. Up to 15 nautical miles from the beach fishermen are not allowed to throw out their nets or fish with strong lights. This is a major step towards the further protection of the turtles nesting in Bangkaru as hatchlings, mating and foraging turtles are now safer then before.

As our patrol team keeps finding leatherbacks at this time of the year, this agreement with the local government and heads of military and police couldn’t have come at a better time. Our first international volunteer has also joined our patrol team and helping to walk the beach every night. Leatherbacks have been measured of 187 cm carapace length and have received metal tags and microchips.