21:25.... A Ranger opens the door to the restaurants and shouts "Turtle Time!!!"..... And it was instant chaos :-) Everyone jumped up from their chairs to get outside as soon as possible, it is turtle time! No shoes allowed in the restaurant, so around 40 pairs of shoes were waiting on the front porch. In the dark it is not an easy task to find your own shoes back, so the chaos was complete :-)
But everyone was laughing, happy, and followed (= almost running) the Ranger onto the beach as quickly as we could. Ooooh, and when I got here I was so overwhelmed! I could sit really close to the turtle, a Green Turtle it was. And look at her, almost touch her. She was busy laying eggs, not taking any notice of everyone around her. I looked at her face, it looked tired from crawling up the beach and laying the eggs, I even imagined seeing a little teardrop in the corner of her eyes. I felt like I invaded her privacy here on her beach.... But oh, what a wonderful moment this was to see this beautiful creature.
You are not allowed on the beach while the turtles are trying to crawl to the top. The presence of so many people might scare them away and the mother-to-be disappear into the sea again. So you will miss part of the 'turtle experience'. But this one moment is wonderful enough, seeing a big sea turtle lay eggs at night.
One by one the eggs 'plop' out in an amazing fast speed. The turtle has dig a whole of about 40 cm deep with the hind flippers and starts laying the eggs.
The amazing number of 111 eggs is what this turtle has been laying! To give you an idea about their size an look, just imagine a ping-pong ball. While the turtle was laying her eggs, the ranger carefully took out all of them from the nest and put them on the side. From here they will be transported to the hatchery.
The egg laying is done and the turtle has started to cover up her nest with sand by flapping her flippers. Time to watch out, because the sand is flying around while she is doing this. This is also the sign for all of us to leave her alone and return back to the main building. The beach is territory of the turtles again, the guests leave quietly, amazed, and a maybe also a bit sad as this wonderful moment is over.
But the evening is not done yet, next visit: the hatchery. Here in the sand similar nests have been made, but now in a more protective area, so that the turtles have a better chance to survive. The ranger explains a bit more about the hatchery and a turtles life, and for the ones who wish, you can hold a small turtle egg for a little while. After a 2- to 3-month incubation period, the young turtles hatch and dig their way through the sand to the surface.
Oooh nooo.... my batteries of the camera ran out!!!! Hahaha, I felt awful there for a second, but no worries, we were able to just squeeze enough power out of them to take this last picture :-)
But the evening hasn't come to an end yet, we have yet to see the next step in the life cycle of the turtle.... the release of the little turtles on the beach and their race for being first into the sea.
I have no pictures of that as there wasn't enough light, but the next morning our guide 'One' had some stray turtles for us to look at and to hold. They are so cute! And strong! Flapping their flippers with all their strength in a nature born urge to find the sea as soon as possible. They didn't care if I held them or not, all they wanted is to move forward in search of the sea. Hahaha, and that meant I had to keep hold of them quite good! Their strength is really surprising and they will escape from your hands before you know it.
But back to yesterday evening.... the last part was seeing the little turtles released on the beach. But before they do that, you do get a chance to hold one of these cuties. After this 'petting' session we all went to the beach for the turtles to be released. And off they all went racing to the sea. It was a wonderful sight to see! There is no light allowed as this might confuse their sense of direction. Only a few torches of the rangers showed the turtles which way to go. But that was more than enough light to see them race to the sea. It has been a wonderful evening, I don't think I will forget this experience very soon.
It is 6:30 in the morning and it is time to leave the island. Latest news: last night there were 15 turtles laying eggs on the beach :-) A last look back to the island, I can see many tracks of the turtles in the sand. So amazing to see that so many turtles crawl up to the beach all over the island. The last thing I saw of Selingan Island, this trip couldn't have ended better than t his last little sign of the special evening we had here, goodbye turtles.
Still feeling sleepy, but happy, we are on our way again. The high speed boat is going to bring us back to Selingan Island where we make a quick stop for breakfast, and than it is off to the mainland for a visit to Sepilok Orang Utan Centre.
Hahaha, the man in the boat had fun in it though, being on the water this early in the morning. He and his colleague made a race out of it who would be first back in Selingan. We won :-)))
My trip to Selingan Island has come to an end, but my Borneo adventures Continue!
The previous leg of my journey was a visit to Libaran Island, some lazy time at the beach, a excursion to the mangrove forest and finally an interesting walk through the islands village.
And from the Turtle Islands park and Selingan Island I am heading to the Sepilok Orang Utan Cente
I hope you will join me on this virtual trip and enjoy reading my travel stories and see the pictures. For me it has been fantastic to write about my journey because it has made me relive the trip once again :-)