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Travel Memory: Turtle Conservation in Borneo

September 2009: A night of turtle conservation on Selingaan Island

Forty kilometres off the coast of Malaysian Borneo, in the middle of the Sulu Sea, there’s a turtle hatchery for endangered green and hawksbill turtles.

With only about 50 beds available to tourists for an overnight stay, it’s a much sought after experience that has to be reserved weeks or months in advance. Luck smiled on us however, and we were able to fill the spots of 2 others that had cancelled their booking last minute. ๐Ÿ™‚

While day tours are only able to drop by to see the Turtle Hatchery and learn about conservation efforts, overnight visitors to the Island, get to enjoy a truly deserted beach, witness a turtle laying eggs, and best of all, help release the little cuties into the sea.

On the night we visited, the mother laid 89 eggs! Strangely, she secreted salt out of her eyes during the process and it seemed to us that she was crying, but the ranger assured us that she was in a sort of trance, and felt no pain.

We watched soundlessly as the ranger collected the eggs, buried them in the sand, just as the mother would, and placed a green net around them to prevent predators from taking them. After incubating for 30 to 60 days, the turtles would hatch and be released into the sea.

Fascinatingly, it’s only a few degrees of difference in temperature that determines the final sex of the turtles.

Seeing the adorable soft-shelled babies, making a mad and instinctive dash towards the water, was one of the most endearing things I’ve ever seen on my travels. Being of service to the confused ones running in the wrong direction, by picking them up and guiding them towards the sea, made our encounter undeniably unforgettable.

Have you liked us on Facebook yet? ๐Ÿ˜€

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. TURTLES. This sounds like a dream vacation for a fellow enthusiast!
    Happy Travels,
    Daisy

    June 5, 2014
  2. Sha #

    I love turtles! Besides elephants…and it’s all because of Nemo…haha

    June 5, 2014
    • We saw some baby elephants on safari, and it’s hard to say which babies are cuter…the turtles or the elephants!!

      June 9, 2014
      • Sha #

        Oh oh oh….but I love elephants too!! Aww…that would be so cute to see…haha…>.<

        June 9, 2014
  3. Love turtles! That was a fruitful travel experience โญ

    June 5, 2014
    • They were so cute! The whole experience was wonderful…it was like being on a real, deserted tropical island!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 9, 2014
  4. Eeek! They look oh-so delicate. I love it when they’re in the water and swimming. Did you find out why they always head to the water? ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    June 6, 2014
    • Lol…we did, but I can’t remember exactly why. This trip was quite a long time ago. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It is totally instinctual though, so I’m guessing it has to do with survival. The ranger just dumped the basket over, and the little babies started running like crazy towards the water. It was a mad scramble!! Just a few of them were confused (poor little guys).

      June 9, 2014
  5. Oh my gosh! Those tiny turtle babies look so vulnerable and cute! What an amazing experience ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 7, 2014
    • They really are so delicate and vulnerable as babies. No hardshell protection at all! It really hit home how easily they are preyed upon… I can’t remember the numbers, but a huge amount of them get dug up and eaten before they hatch, and a most of them don’t make it past the first year of life. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      June 9, 2014
  6. You were so lucky to get to stay and visit this place! What is the best period to visit the sanctuary?

    June 13, 2014
    • We were very fortunate indeed, as it can be difficult to get an overnight booking!! You can visit anytime, but I think between July and October is better, because the water is calmer. We were there in September and it was fantastic. The best and cheapest company to book with is: Crystal Quest in Sandakan because they are the official agency for Sabah Parks. You can buy through another travel agency, but it’ll be more expensive for the exact same thing. Good luck! Let us know if you manage to visit! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 14, 2014

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