ea turtles have been on earth for over 100 million years. Turtles, like other reptiles such as crocodiles, lizards and snakes, have scaly skin, breathe air, lay eggs , have body temperatures that fluctuates with the temperature of the environment.
The hard bony shell, or 'carapace', on the back of the turtle offers protection from its enemies.It is composed of living tissue that includes the ribs and vertebrae along with bony elements that evolved from the scaly skin. The front and rear flippers of the sea turtle have been specially adapted for swimming. Although sea turtles can swim under water for long period of time, they will drown if they are unable to come up for air.
Over the past 30 years, there has been a general decline in numbers of turtles in Malaysia. Female turtles must return to the nest on the beach, but this, the most important part of their life cycle is now being threatened. Many of their nesting grounds are disturbed and have become unsuitable for nesting. The irresponsible actions of people are destroying the turtle populations of Malaysia. Unless these actions are checked, the turtles are will soon become extinct. Of the seven different kinds of sea turtles in the world, four visit the beaches of Malaysia to lay eggs.
The Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest turtle in the world. It can reach two meters in carapace length and weigh up to 900 kilograms. It is the only sea turtle without a hard shell, having instead a leathery carapace with seven long ridges. It is black in color with white, grey or pink patches. Leatherbacks have deeply notched upper jaws to help them capture jellyfish, their favourite food. Although leatherbacks breed in tropical regions of the world, they spend much of their life foraging in very cold sea. They regularly dive to depths of over 400 meters, with a record maximum depth of 1,200 meters. Leatherbacks can raise their body temperature several degrees above that of their environment. In Malaysia, leatherbacks nest only in the vicinity of Rantau Abang, Terengganu, but their numbers are now much reduced.
The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) which is usually olive brown in color, is actually named for the color of its fat. Green turtles may grow over one meter in carapace length and weigh more than 140 kilograms. They are almost exclusively vegetarian and feed on sea grasses, algae and occasionally on sponge. In many parts of the world they have been heavily exploited for their meat, hide and oil. People also harvest the eggs, and kill the juveniles to make curios. In Malaysia, green turtles nest on sandy beaches of the coast and offshore islands of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is the only turtle with a beak like a hawk. It has a hard shell made of beautiful dark brown or yellow and brown scales which overlap each other. The head flippers are gold with brown patches. Adult hawksbills measure 79-90 cm in carapace length, and weigh 35-60 kg. They live on coral reefs and eat sponge. Hawksbills are found throughout the tropics, and virtually everywhere they are intensely hunted. Some are stuffed and made into wall hangings. The shells of others are fashioned into "Tortoise Shell Jewelry" and sold to tourists. Small number of hawksbill are found nesting along both coasts of Peninsular Malaysia (especially at Melaka) and in Sabah and Sarawak.
The olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacae) is the smallest of the turtles found in Malaysia. Adults are about 60-65 cm, long and usually weigh 35-40 kilograms. The top shell is olive green or grey, while the bottom shell is white. This turtle feeds primarily on shrimps, jellyfish, crabs and snails. The ridley, which once nested regularly in huge groups of 10,000 to 100,000 individuals in Mexico, Costa Rica, Surinam, India and several other locations, is now endangered throughout its range. It is threatened by legal and illegal commercial harvest of adults for meat and leather, incidental catch in trawl nets, and massive harvest of eggs from their nesting beaches. In Malaysia ridleys are found in small numbers along the coasts and offshore island of Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak.
Date of Issue : November 17, 1990
Denomination : 15¢, 20¢, 40¢, and RM1.00
Stamp Size : 28mm x 38mm
Paper : SPM Watermarked, Phosphor Coated
Printing Process : Lithography
Printer : Security Printers (M) Sdn. Bhd.
Sheet Content : 100 Stamps
Stamp designer : Ong Soo Keat