We have been exploring a number of islands.
After the turtle conservation project on the Perhentian Besar (big island) last month, we enjoyed ten days or so on Perhentian Kecil (small island).
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|
|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.
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.