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MERC inadvertently took up a role as a marine sanctuary when it was turned to for help by villagers on Gaya Island. A hawksbill turtle, found floating by nearby villages, was brought to MERC where it was treated for a few weeks. Under advice from a turtle expert, the turtle was treated with de-worming pills and charcoal. Improvement was noted after a few weeks, and the turtle was successfully released back to the wild after a few months.
A second turtle, a green turtle, was also brought to MERC for treatment by local villages after being accidentally caught. Although comprehensive measures were taken to treat the turtle, the turtle did not survive. An X-ray showed a compaction in the gut of the turtle which caused gas to be released from the fecal matters in the gut, making it impossible for the turtle to sink. Paraffin and antibiotics were administered to the turtle with no positive effects. A post mortem revealed that the turtle had been ingesting shells which caused the blockage of the gut, eventually leading to a bacterial infection of the lungs which made her condition worse.
A few nurse sharks have also been treated in MERC. One shark, badly injured when caught in a fisherman's net, was taken care of for a few months. This was the first of a few nurse sharks treated – the others were rescued from fishermen who caught them to sell in the market. All the sharks were released into the wild once fully healed.Although MERC’s role as a marine sanctuary was unplanned, with the help of relevant experts, the team is able to provide proper attention to marine life needing medical attention and care. The fact that villagers have turned to MERC to report such incidences shows that people are conscious and confident of MERC’s important role in marine conservation.