Peng Kuan-chieh (彭冠傑), who fell in love with sea turtles during a childhood visit to the Green Sea Turtle Museum in Penghu County’s Wangan Township (望安), has channeled his passion into making polymer clay models of the creatures, which are being used to encourage conservation efforts and to raise money.
“Seeing the turtles and their filmy eyes, they were so cute,” Peng on Friday said of his childhood visit.
He was also moved by watching a program on the Discovery Channel that detailed how sea turtles laid their eggs on beaches, he said.
He chose to study sea turtles for his master’s degree and is even serving his alternative military service on Pingtung’s Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球) to be closer to the reptiles.
Green sea turtles can often be seen hunting for food at high tide in the waters off Siaoliouciou, Peng said.
However, the animals can only be seen on Wangan’s beaches during the spawning season, he added.
The ban on gill nets in the region has led to frequent sightings of small to middle-sized sea turtles, Peng said.
After a hostel owner asked him for one of his models, Peng said it gave him the idea that he could put them to good use and decided to make a large number.
The Dapeng Bay National Scenic Park uses the models to raise money for sea turtle conservation, saying on their Facebook page that those who donate 10 receipts to the park can receive one for free.
All 35 models were snapped up within minutes of the offer being posted, Peng said.
Peng said he is to attend five beach cleaning events organized by the park this month and he would be offering five turtles to participants at each clean-up.
Participants would receive one coin for every 2kg of trash they pick up and they would be able to exchange the coins for models, Peng said.
He is also making 10 more models available for the park to exchange for 20 receipts, he said.
Peng said he hoped to be able be work on sea turtle conservation or a related field, but if he could not find paid work, he would continue to help out as a volunteer.
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