Saturday, 10 August 2013

More islands and a nesting turtle for my birthday

After the turtle conservation project on the Perhentian Besar (big island) last month, we enjoyed ten days or so on Perhentian Kecil (small island), which you can read more about on my Travelpod post here.

Next stop was the Kapas Island, see: more about turtles and the state capital. There was very little to do there so we left fairly quickly, passing through Kuala Terengganu and then Kota Bharu.

It's also been the month of Ramadan so a lot of restaurants and places serving food are closed during the daytime, whilst the Muslim population is fasting, which does make it difficult to find something to eat. Usually locating a Chinatown or Indian community resolves that, see my post: eating during Ramadan.

A week or so ago, we were enjoying a slightly cooler climate, whilst visiting Taman Negara; which is apparently the worlds oldest tropical rainforest. I haven't written the related post yet so do check back for more on this later.

Canopy walk
At the moment I'm volunteering at another turtle conservation project, this time on Tioman Island, and it's so far been even better than the project in the Perhentian Islands. Every day is different and there is so much to do; although there are daily chores such as raking leaves, feeding the resident turtle and carrying out numerous turtle talks to the general public.

Hatchling release at dawn
I celebrated my birthday yesterday, starting with a hatchling release on the beach at dawn, followed by cleaning the turtle tank (a big big task where we have to pump sea water up from the ocean) and then an emergency call out to an oil spill at the northern end of Juara beach. 

Cleaning oil from the beach
There is no birthday present better than spending the day helping saving the turtles/beach etc ;). Except finding a nesting turtle of course! 

Around 11.30pm, two tourists came to the centre to tell us they had found a turtle on the beach. There hasn't been one for over a month so we were very lucky to be here for this, as usually the nests are found on the other two beaches that are checked in the morning. We would have found the tracks during the next patrol, but thanks to the tourists we were able to get there quite early and the mother had only just started digging the hole.

It took over two hours for the nesting process to be completed and for a large amount of time we were just listening to sand being tossed around in the dark, so as not to disturb the turtle.

It was completely awesome to be there for the whole thing. The different stages are quite distinct, with the chamber being created at the bottom of the nest once the turtle has dug deep enough; the eggs being laid; the nest being covered and in this case, a false nest being created before the turtle leaves to go back to the sea.

The eggs were extracted as they were laid. The turtle goes into a 'trance' whereby she can relax enough to lay the eggs but cannot feel anything, so we use this stage to take measurements and remove the eggs to be reburied in the hatchery.

egg collection

Fresh eggs

Taking measurements

We had already extended our stay for another week as it's just great to be contributing to such a worthy cause and there is so much more to do to help.

Hopefully I will find some time to catch up on more blog posts, but for now here are a couple more photos.

Jo the resident turtle

Celebrating Hari Raya




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