KOTA KINABALU - State wildlife authorities are investigating the discovery of 60 decomposing turtle carcasses on a remote northern island.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that Sabah Parks officials were probing the discovery by Universiti Malaysia Sabah academician Dr James Alin at Pulau Tiga, an island under the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park.
"Among the things the Sabah Parks will try to determine is where the turtles came from," he said.
The discovery has raised concerns among various NGOs, including the Sabah Tourist Guide Association, whose president Daniel Doughty said it should be the impetus to gazette the island as a marine park.
"A marine park status will mean more protection for all creatures in its zone," he said.
Daniel said after seeing the photographs of the dead turtles, he felt that Pulau Tiga resembled a "killing field" of the marine creatures.
"We cannot allow this to persist in our backyard. Something has to be done and one of the first steps is making the area a marine park, which we have been waiting for for at least 10 years," he added.
According to the Sabah Parks website, the proposed 1.02mil ha Tun Mustapha marine park encompassed more than 50 islands and islets located across Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts in Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area.
The proposed marine park has a unique biodiversity that supports a series of complex and linked habitats and is home to endangered marine animals such as green sea turtles and dugongs.