We made another quick 'race' over the waters of the Sulu Sea as the boat brought us to another of the tiny Turtle Islands. Arriving at this tiny island we are confronted with the proximity of The Philippines. There is tight security on the island and the army keeps an eye out on whatever goes on on the waters and on the island. The territorial waters of The Philippines are only a few kilometres away, and I guess for our own safety it is good that they are here. But it didn't make me feel that 'comfortable', LOL. :-)) So this is not the best place to be to lay on the beach with all those 'watchful' eyes. But that is not why we are here; no time for the beach; it is snorkelling time!
Believe it or not, this was my first time going snorkelling. Hahaha, and I can confess that I am definitely NOT the snorkelling queen, LOL :-)) The first dip under water meant the first gulp of salt water as well, hahaha, not a good start. But slowly I started to enjoy it more and more. Looking down on the sea bottom was amazing!
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.
Good morning everyone! I am still on Libaran Island, but heading for Selingan later in the day. We made a quiet start to the day, breakfast at 7:30.... well, not that we needed to have breakfast this early, but we just felt like it. Hahaha, after all those days of getting up early, 7:30 felt like sleeping in anyway ;-))
The start of the morning was a quick dip in the sea, a lazy breakfast and after that a walk in the village. I enjoyed that walk! It was so nice to see the culture differences and the way people live here on this little island. I took a few pictures of it and I put those on my Libaran page if you are interested. The rest of the morning was just being lazy.... mmmm, imagine yourself being lazy in that chair (see picture) doing nothing besides listening to the waves wash up on the shore and feel the warm sunshine on your face. Fantastic isn't it! And while doing that I was dreaming about the turtles we were going to see on Selingan island :-) Yes, and that's what this page is going to be about.... turtles!
Turtle Island Park is in the eastern part of Sabah (Borneo, Malaysia) in the Sulu Sea. It is only 40 minutes by boat from Sandakan, the main city on the east coast of Sabah. Selingan Island is part of the Turtle Island Park, a Marine Park consisting of a series of three islands: Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan.
Back on Selingan Island! So what to do now? No turtles yet! They will show up after dark. Okay, lets go the beach! The beach isn't a huge area but it looks nice. Blue sea, nice sandy beach, yep this looks good! But it wasn't as good at all as it seemed to be! After only 10 seconds in the sand I jumped up again! Eeeeeeks! Sand flies... and lots, biting me all over! That's no fun! Oh well, no big loss, hahaha, I am not such a beach person anyway ;-))
So instead of being lazy on the beach we decided to relax outside our room where we found a nice bench in the sun. Good conversation, nice drinks and great company.... this was not a bad thing at all :-)
The lazy morning has come to an end. It's just after lunchtime and we are ready to leave Libaran Island to reach our new destination and adventure: Selingan Island! A quick boat ride of 20 minutes brought us to this tiny island in the Sulu Sea. Excited and curious we were on our way. Today, and especially this evening, it will be turtle time! If all goes well I will see a big sea turtle laying eggs on the beach. Not sure what to expect, but hopefully for what to see, we were on our way.....
Selingan Island is part of the Turtle Island Park. It is only a tiny island, most of the island is taken up with the buildings for the staff, and some accommodations for the guests. And as you maybe can see on the map, there is not room for much else on this tiny island. It's main feature? The nice sandy beach that surrounds the island; the territory of the turtles at night :-)
We have arrived at Selingan. A quick check in at our accommodation; no time to waste. The room is very simple, but good enough. Hahaha, no time to look around anyway, we are off again in a few minutes. A bit rushed we changed into our bathing clothes. All we need it is towels, and some energy.... We are not to stay on Selingan Island for long, we are going on a short snorkelling trip this afternoon. Hurry.... hurry..... the boat is waiting! :-)
If you want, you can rent snorkel gear on the island. I rented mine on Libaran Island and it didn't cost too much. I think it was about 10 Malaysian Ringgets. You can't rent any special gear though for when you wear glasses. So in that case make sure you bring your own, if you have of course.
The current was quite strong which made staying close to the boat very difficult. As I am not the 'best' of swimmers, hahaha, and certainly not the 'best' of snorkellers, this was quite worrying. So for a while I just hang on to the boat and looked down, admiring the coral and the many wonderful fish swimming around. This was my first time really looking at the 'Under Water World' and I was amazed by it. So beautiful! After a while we went back to the beach and did some snorkelling from there. Hahaha, I didn't improve my skills, the water was just as salt here, but at least the current was not as strong :-))
Now the evening is fallen, the waiting game begins....
A quiet evening, the sea is calm, the sun is setting, the temperatures are so nice and tropical warm. It's after 6 o'clock and the beaches are off limit from now, it is the territory of the turtles, no people allowed. It is also the start of the waiting game..... the quietness before the 'storm'. Everyone is waiting for the time that the ranger will call 'Turtle Time Turtle Time!' The time that we can go out on the beach to see the turtles lay eggs. But when that is...... nobody can tell. It can be as early as 9 o'clock, but it can be around 4 o'clock in the morning too.....
Downstairs in the main building is the restaurant area, and upstairs is a little exposition about Turtle Islands Park and the turtles. And as we needed to kill some time while waiting for the turtles to show up, we took a look around in the exposition area. The exposition was quite nice, hahaha, but there was one funny fact: torch light required! As the generator on the island had a hard time keeping up with the demand for electricity with all the air conditioners running on full speed, the lights kept going out again and again. So in the end our guide 'One' told all about the turtles in 'torch light'. Good thing we had those things with us! It was a strange but funny way to see the exposition. If you are on the island, don't forget to go here, it is nice to see. But maybe looking at it in daytime is a better idea ;-)
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.
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.
Oooh nooo.... my batteries of the camera ran out!!!! Hahaha, I felt awful there for a second, but no worries, I was able to just squeeze enough power out of them to take this last picture :-)
Before the eastcoast of Sabah, at 40 kilometres from Sandakan, you will find the Turtle Islands. A protected area in the Sulu Sea that concludes 8 little islands. Pulau Selingan is the most famous of...
From out of the deep blue, come some of the oldest of Earth's creatures, to these sands in order to dig their nests, lay their eggs and continue their lineage. Its a rare and unique gift to see these...
This area is one of the most important turtle-breeding grounds in South East Asia, and we came here to see Green and Hawksbill turtles lay their eggs in the sand. Only 3% of the young turtles survive...