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DNA Forensic for Sea Turtle Conservation

Posted on Posted in Capacity Building, Workshop

In line with its goal in conservation, research, and capacity building, Yayasan Biodiversitas Indonesia (BIONESIA) is focusing one of its program to increase the awareness on sea turtle conservation and gathering information to build the sea turtle database around Indonesia. In order to accomplish this mission, Bionesia collaborate with WWF Indonesia, Udayana University, Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center and Turtle Conservation and Education Center (TCEC) – Bali to hold a workshop and training on Stranded Sea Turtle and Application of Forensic DNA in Sea Turtle Conservation (Pelatihan Penanganan Penyu Terdampar dan Penggunaan DNA Forensik dalam Konservasi Penyu). This workshop was one of the project funded by Rufford Foundation (Grant ref. no: 22043-1).

Held in TCEC – Bali office, Serangan on July 29, 2017 this workshop attended by participants from various institution, including NGOs (Reef Seen, WWF-Indonesia, TCEC, IBRC), local communities (K-veterinary clinic, community police officer, PDHI/veteriner community, Serangan village authorities), government officials (Bali Police Officer, BKSDA Bali, Quarantine office), Journalist (Mongabay Indonesia) and several universities throughout Indonesia (Diponegoro University, Sriwijaya University, Bogor Agricultural Institute, Brawijaya University, Kristen Artha Wacana University, Udayana University, UCLA). The workshop was successfully introduced genetic as one of the forensic identification method to help with sea turtle conservation. Moreover, several institutions such as Bali Police Officer (Pol air Polda Bali), WWF and TCEC were very enthusiast to help with sample collection in order to complete the genetic database of sea turtle in Indonesia.

Andrianus Sembiring, one of Bionesia staff is giving explanation on how to collect tissue sample for genetic purposes from live sea turtle.
Andrianus Sembiring, one of Bionesia staff is giving explanation on how to collect tissue sample for genetic purposes from live sea turtle.

Two important point that emphized in this workshop were (1) the method on collecting genetic samples of sea turtle for forensic investigation and (2) rescue method on sea turtle caught on bycatch. Other than those two points, history on the conservation of sea turtle in Indonesia and Bali was also presented by one of our speaker from Udayana University, Ida Bagus Windia Adnyana, whose also one of the senior in Indonesian sea turtle conservation. He mentioned that sea turtle conservation in Indonesia has been occured since 1973 and has been indicated a good step-up point showed by the increasing of enthusiasm in protecting sea turtle by various parties, including NGOs, goverment officials, and also veteriner.  

The participants is collecting genetic sample from the sea turtle’s cloaca
The participants is collecting genetic sample from the sea turtle’s cloaca

Introductory and training on sample collection was explained by Bionesia’s staff with the help of Maulid Dio Suhendro, one of the veteriner which has a lot of experiences on sea turtle and marine mamals. During this workshop, each steps of sample collection on live turtle was given in detail. Sea turtle used within this workshop was the confiscated sea turtle from the smuggling in Bali on January 2017. Genetic sample was collected from the cloaca and then preserved in chelex 10%. This sampling method from cloaca was to ensure not to stress the sea turtle. This method has been tested on several tissue samples collected from other sea turtles and indicated a good result for amplifying target DNA. Colected tissue samples during the workshop were also analysed in order to obtain its genetic data, which will be usefull for the addition of Indonesian sea turtle database.

Participants were paying serious attention on the explanation on sea turtle rescue given by one of WWF staff.
Participants were paying serious attention on the explanation on sea turtle rescue given by one of WWF staff.

Within this training, Ranny Ramadhani Yunaeni, one of WWF staff was giving an explanation on rescue method on sea turtle caught on bycatch. It was a crucial rescue method due to the increasing activity of various fishing gear used within the sea turtle migration area. This was to ensure the safety and survival chance of sea turtle that was accidentally caught on bycatch. In this activity, each participants were grouped into team and required to give an explanation and present their understanding on sea turtle rescue.

High enthusiasm was seen from each of the participants looking from their best effort in demonstrating the new method that they learned in a very limited time. Therefore, workshop of this kind are surely hope to increase the awarenesess on sea turtle conservation and expand the networking between sea turtle conservationist in Indonesia.