13 August, Indonesia – ‘All Over The Place – Asia, part 2’
Up before dawn, with the cockerels outside our hotel just warming up, to do our little bit for the Indonesian environment. With the expansion of Bali’s tourist industry the country’s turtles have taken quite a hit, due to the fact that (very tasteful) hotels and bars have been built along the beaches of what are supposed to be their nesting sites. The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre rescue, rehabiliate and release thousands of turtles every year here, and with it being Independence Day on Thursday (they seem to celebrate it for the whole week) they had tonnes of the little guys to symbolically release (one mother can lay 190 eggs in one sitting).
We made the short drive over to what locals call “Rubbish Island” (it’s where the contents of everyone’s bins end up), and waiting there on the beach in the shade of a very rudimentary restaurant were large buckets full of black 10cm long 2 day old baby turtles, all scrabbling about like they had a mission to get on with. We helped pop them into individual plastic pots of seawater and then made our way down to the shore in a big crowd of tourists and locals, where we stood behind a line marked out with a ribbon and tipped the little guys out after a countdown. They frantically pushed themselves towards the water at varying speeds but after only a few minutes they’d all made their way in, and some were already motoring off into the distance, their tiny little heads bobbing up and down for air. Only 1 in 1,000 will make it through to adulthood, which seems a bit harsh. Hopefully my turtle, Sheldon, will live a long and happy life free from predators and plastic bags and will be coming back to the beach for many, many decades to come.
Once that was all out of the way we made another short journey to the conservation centre where we saw rescued eggs buried in a large sandpit, massive tiled holding tanks of babies and a big pool with injured adult turtles that fishermen have rescued, being nursed back to health.
Then it was back to the beach for an amazing lunch of freshly caught fish before Naomi and I got dressed up as Ninja Turtles, in full on green spandex and shells, for a comedy sketch about training turtles to reach the sea. We couldn’t have looked more like Ninja Turtles really, but the confused locals thought we were Power Rangers, so I guess turtle power is a phenomenon unknown to them.