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Summer 2007 - Malaysia XIV

We're off to see the turtles


View Summer Vacation 2007 on agc_cwm's travel map.

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We checked out of our room and went to the reception desk to wait for our transfer to the jetty, where a boat would take us out to Selingaan Island. The transfer was 15 minutes later than I had expected so I was getting antsy and cantankerous waiting for it. But the van arrived and it only took about 30 minutes to get to where we were going. We entered the tour office and went in to the office to pay. This went smoothly until we found out that they only accepted cash, and we had just used all ours to pay for our hotel room. A little frustrated because we could have put the hotel on Visa, Andrew went of in a taxi to find a bank machine while I waited with the bags. He returned shortly, and then we loaded into the boat and were off to Pulau Selingaan, part of Turtle Islands National Park. Click the park name for more information about it.

It was a very smooth ride as there were only tiny waves. We passed quite a large village of stilt houses over the water as we were leaving. All in all, the boat ride was an hour long. Along the way, we saw a couple of islands we though we should buy.

When we arrived on the island, we grabbed our key and were told about meal times, and that we had a lot of time to kill until the evening came. We went to our room and laid down for a few minutes before grabbing our cameras and going out to explore a little. We walked along the beach where the turtles come up to lay their eggs. This time of year, green turtles were nesting (July - October); hawksbill turtles nest from February to April. Click the names of the individual turtles for more information. We picked up some garbage, and I tried to get some pictures of the birds, paparazzi-style. After we walked around for a while, we talked to some people, and the someone semi-official looking came up to us and asked what tour group we were with. We told them, thinking this was a stupid question because there is only one organization that takes groups to the island. Well, apparently we gave them the wrong answer, because we had to move to a different table. I figured if we had assigned tables, maybe they should label them.

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After we ate lunch, we walked around the side of the island and saw some people snorkeling, swimming and relaxing. Andrew didn't want to go snorkeling because of his ear, and I didn't really want to go because I know my back would get a nasty burn. It was getting pretty hot, so we decided to go back to our room and chill out for a bit. Andrew napped, as you might have guessed. After he got up, we went outside and Scrabbled and relaxed before dinner. Before we ate, though, we walked around the information centre and then they played a film about the park and the projects that they do. After dinner, we had to stay in the cafeteria area until someone came to get us to tell us there was a turtle. While we were waiting, we chatted with some people about travel, music, TV, etc, etc. Then around 23:00, a guide came in and told us "Let's go". Luckily we were in group 1, so we got to go first. There were about 20 of us who went out to see the turtle laying her eggs. I sort of took off running without Andrew, because I was not going to miss any of this. Apparently when she's laying eggs, the turtle goes into a sort of trance or something,so I guess maybe we weren't disturbing her that much. There was only one flashlight allowed, and we had to be very quiet so as not to disturb other turtles that might come ashore. As soon as the eggs were laid, the ranger took them out of the nest and put them into a bucket to move them to a nursery nest. This particular turtle laid 88 eggs that night (we were told she might lay more clutches this season).

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Once she finished laying eggs, she was measured, and her tag number was checked. We then quietly followed the ranger to the nursery where the eggs were placed in a nest designed to keep out predators.

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After this, we then went to watch the release of that evening's hatchlings, maybe 30-40 of them. They released them close to the water's edge, and their flippers went like little propellers trying to get to the water. One little turtle started heading away from the water. I figure he might not make it in the big bad world if he can't find the ocean when he's a metre away from it. He did eventually get turned around by the ranger. Overall the survival rates for sea turtles are incredible low. Note: unfortunately I can't take credit for the following three shots. I bought these ones at the gift shop on the island.

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This was the end of the program for the evening. Thank goodness, as we were both pretty tired by this point. We went back to our room and packed for our early departure the next day. Our impression of "Turtle Island": it was really amazing to see, but it was overly packaged and touristy for us. I think next time we'll try to do a volunteer stint rather than a package tour.

Posted by agc_cwm 05:44 Archived in Malaysia

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