Up close with the Green turtle

Written by Lim Wei Li

Wei Li joined TCS as an intern twice, once in 2015 and again in 2016. He is a turtle enthusiast at heart.

17 Apr 2016

Yesterday (16th April 2016), I had the opportunity to go on a turtle watching trip in Pantai Teluk Mak Nik, Kemaman. Since it is now still the beginning of the sea turtle nesting season, there were only five other guests.

The sea turtle nesting beach was littered with leftover fishing baits, plastic, water bottles, food containers, etc., presumably left there by irresponsible fishers and/or picnickers. On the beach, we picked up and filled a trash bag with mostly empty water bottles littered on the beach. The leftover fishing baits were left to rot on the beach, the stench was unbearable. By writing this, I would like to tell the public that plastics are one of the potential turtle killers! Stop this irresponsible behaviour, it will not only kill the sea turtle but also pollute the beach.

The sea turtle nesting season runs from March to September/October every year, and the peak nesting activities occur in May-June. The most common sea turtle observed at Pantai Teluk Mak Nik is the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Green turtles may lay between 30 and 160 eggs per nest, with an average of 100 eggs per nest.

It was an amazing experience, being so close to a critically endangered species.

It was an amazing experience, being so close to a critically endangered species.

It was an amazing experience, being able to witness the nesting of a Green turtle. First, the turtle digs a body pit big enough for her to be comfortable in. Then, she carves an egg chamber for the eggs. When she is ready, she lays her eggs, 2-3 eggs at a time, and then she covers her egg chamber. Before leaving the nest behind, she sand bathes for about an hour, in an attempt to camouflage her nest. The entire nesting process may easily take 3 hours to complete!

The female laid a total of 79 eggs!

The female laid a total of 79 eggs!

For the purpose of conservation, all Green turtle eggs that are laid at Pantai Teluk Mak Nik are carefully retrieved and incubated at the hatchery in Geliga, about 2 km away. Approximately 60 days later, hatchlings will emerge and they will be immediately released into the sea.

Although I’ve had the privilege of watching numerous Green turtles nest, my experience yesterday got me excited all over again. I look forward to a productive sea turtle nesting this year!

If you too, would like to experience the magic of being up close with a critically endangered Green turtle, sign up for our highly educational Turtle Discovery Trip today! It is an eye-opening experience as participants will learn so much about our critically endangered turtles.

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