A Travellerspoint blog

BORNEO – Turtle Island

(Day 222 to 223)

sunny 35 °C
View Round The World Map on kostlin's travel map.

Upon our return from the jungle, Martin and I had to repack our bags and got ready for the next morning’s adventure: Turtle Island. We were eager to say the least. As mentioned before, Martins love for wildlife makes him overly excited for this experience.
This expedition was to allow us to observe Green Turtles whilst they come out of the water to lay their eggs, then for the babies to be released into the water as they were ready.

The day is spent lazing about on the beach and swimming, checking out the huge tracker tire marks on the beach (which are proof of the night before’s turtle activity), whilst we impatiently wait for night-time to fall for the turtles to arrive. The anticipation escalates when we start seeing a few babies crawling out from their nests in the hatchery, crawling like wound-up toys, sooo cute.

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The prehistoric-looking reptiles finally arrive after dinner and once they have dug their holes deep enough to start laying their eggs, the rangers come to get us with a call: “Turtle Time!”. It’s a silent stampede to the beach to be the closest possible to them. Whilst we cannot shine any light on Mama Turtle as she is very sensitive to it, we are however allowed to watch her lay as the process induces her into a trans-like state where we don’t disturb her if we stand behind her. It’s quite amazing to be able to witness this in Live. When she is finished laying, the rangers collect her eggs – unbeknown to her – and she covers “them” up until the hole is full again. Before she heads back to the ocean, the ranger measures and identifies her. As we leave her and walk back we see silhouettes of other turtles heaving their heavy aging body up the sand, and others digging their holes with the force of machines.

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Click on the video, then pause it when it starts playing so it can download before viewing

The next stage of this educational evening is to see what they do with the freshly laid eggs. We follow the rangers to the hatchery where they show us how deep they need to be buried to be safe and develop normally. They also keep a little mesh fencing around each set of eggs (Our turtle laid 90) to protect them further. This set also gets the date, Mama’s tag number, number of eggs etc. This allows them to monitor each nest. There is also a main fencing around them to keep predators out. The reason the collecting of eggs gets done is to prevent natural predators from eating the eggs and giving the babies a chance to make it before being eaten. This is all part of trying to get the numbers rising instead of dwindling as they currently are at the moment, as the great Green turtle is endangered.

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Run my little ones, run!

The final and most exciting stage of the evening is the releasing of newly hatched little babies into the sea. At around 45 to 75 days, the eggs hatch during the night and the hatchlings instinctively head directly into the water. This is the most dangerous time in a turtle's life. As they walk, predators such as gulls, crabs and monitor lizards can grab them. A significant percentage never make it to the ocean. The little fellows take their time getting out of the hole in the safety of the hatchery, and when they do, they get collected and released on the beach where they will make their way to the water and start their lives. The ranger stands in the water and shines a torch towards them, they think this is the moon and therefore the instinctive direction they must follow and start running like crazy towards the sea. It’s a gorgeous sight seeing this scramble to freedom.

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Click on the video, then pause it when it starts playing so it can download before viewing

The most astonishing part is that no-one knows what happens to them from this moment on and until they come back here to have their turn to hatch when they are the adults for the fist time. This is mainly due to the fact that they live such long lives and sometimes live miles and miles away from where they were born. They however always return to the spot where they were born to lay their own eggs.

This was a fascinating experience, and we feel so privileged to have been able to share it.

Posted by kostlin 23:08 Archived in Malaysia

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Comments

WOW! What an amazing sight! You guys are so lucky to have had that experience. Love the videos. Soooo cute!
Keep safe you two
xxx

by Cath

It really must have been fascinating to watch live what we normally see on the TV.If they are an endangered species, why don't they keep them until they are grown up before letting them go...
Anyway they know what they are doing and its good that they allow people to see what they are doing for these turtles.
love to both JM

by JMH

My long wait for this episode was more than satisfied with your photos, movies and great description.. Thank you so much - one more - for sharing this experience...
bisous doux
M

by mf

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