On our island, there's a conservation center that is working towards maximizing the rate of survival for green sea turtle hatchlings. Green sea turtles arrive on our beaches year-round to lay eggs in the sand (somewhat unusual, as in most other places, there are seasons for when turtles lay their eggs). This conservation center is staffed 24/7 with workers who watch for nighttime landings of turtles, mark the spots where eggs are buried under the sand, take preventative measures to discourage island dogs and other predators from disturbing the nests, and then release newly hatched turtles to begin their walk to the ocean at sunset. Controlling the time of day when the brand-new turtle makes their way into the ocean is thought to help their survival rate because lower light means that the baby turtles are less visible to their natural predators.
This conservation hosts a program that allows people to come and be a part of the sunset turtle-releasing ceremony--and you guessed it, that was our weekend adventure.
It's possible to hike to Turtle Beach, but it's a long, tough walk, and not for little legs, so we hired two boats to take our group of 24 out. I love a good boat ride, so I thought the 10 minute trip out to the beach was just glorious!
We arrived at the beach slightly before 4 pm, because if you want to take part in the turtle releasing, you must watch an informational presentation about sea turtles and the work that the conservation center does. The presentation starts at 4, and we crowded into the wooden room to watch the show.
There was a slight language barrier for my family, as the slides and video were in Bahasa (not my best language), but the man running the show held the question and answer time in English, which was very helpful. I loved getting to see footage of mama turtles on the very beaches that we got to walk. It's fascinating to learn about these cool little creatures, though sobering to learn more about the dangers they face from the fishing industry as well as pollution and humans in general--not to mention that they have all sorts of natural predators, particularly when they are very small and vulnerable.
After the presentation, we had a good chunk of time to explore the beach before the workers deemed it was time to release the turtles, so we scattered to enjoy our own adventures. Some climbed rocks, some napped, some dipped their toes in the water while others chased ghost crabs.
I spotted a tiny jellyfish in the shallows. Fun fact: Whenever I'm asked if I have a favorite animal, I always choose jellyfish. My reason? Because they are really weird and they sting people.
When the workers deemed it time to release the turtles, they brought out a bucket with six newly hatched turtles.
Most of us picked named for the baby turtles, regardless of the fact that there were 24 of us and 6 turtles. I named mine Captain Kilian Jones.
Goodbye little turtles! We really hope you guys make it out there in the big blue!
*Many thanks to my friends, Kevin and Sharon, for the vast majority of these photos. They take way better photos than I do!