BACHOK - A hawksbill turtle that landed on Pantai Chenang Laut in Tawang here on Tuesday surprised villagers as it was the first of such sighting in decades.
Kampung Padang Nibong residents went in droves to the beach after news spread about the discovery of the hawksbill by a teenager about 4.30pm.
Mohd Farid Ismail, 17, said he and a friend were riding horses when they spotted the turtle on the shore.
"It looked weak and its right front fin was injured.
"My friend and I led the turtle back into the sea several times.
"But it kept swimming back ashore.
"After a few times, we decided to keep it for its own safety."
He said he would hand over the 15kg turtle to the relevant authorities to be released back into the sea as he had no knowledge how to care for the reptile in captivity.
"When the turtle refused to go back into the sea, my friend helped to carry it on his motorcycle and we kept it at his horse stable."
Villager Idris Senit, 65, said the appearance of the hawksbill was extraordinary as this was the first time he saw a turtle landing since he was young boy.
He said the hawksbill's fin could have been caught in a fishing net which might have damaged it.
"It is a bit worrisome to us because the rare landing could be a bad omen."
State fisheries director Datuk Mohamad Mat Saman said it was nothing out of the ordinary for turtles to land on beaches in Kelantan.
He said there had been reports every now and then about turtle landings but it was quite rare in the state.
"Hawksbill and green turtles are the most common species that land in Kelantan," he said, adding that the leatherback species had long stopped coming to shores in the state.
Under the Fisheries Act 1985, he said it was an offence for people to abuse or catch turtles and offenders were liable to be fined up to RM500 (S$192) upon conviction.
Mohamad said the department officials picked up the hawksbill from the village at 11pm on Tuesday after they were informed about its discovery.
"We will send the hawksbill to the Rantau Abang turtle sanctuary in Terengganu to rehabilitate and treat its injury as soon as possible."