Published: May 11th 2012April 26th 2012
As I’m writing this blog we’re sat on the decking under the shade of a huge tree. In front of us is a beautiful white sand beach and a calm blue ocean beyond. Sam Cooke in gently playing ‘Summertime and the Living is Easy’ on Kyam’s sound system. So appropriate! We have returned to one of our favourite islands of the east coast of Malaysia.
I’m pleased to say that not much has changed, it’s still a sleepy place with beautiful unspoilt beaches. Apart from when the weekenders come, you can almost guarantee having the whole beach to yourself. As the sun rises higher in the sky and the shade on the beach disappears we retreat to the shade of this tree and while away the afternoon. Evenings too can be spent under this tree sipping a cold beer.
Late on Friday night we were relaxing in the ‘hang out’ area with a cold beer when Hans, the restaurant owner, came and whispered “ there’s a Green turtle laying her eggs on the far beach if you want to see it. There’s a boat going in a few minutes but only 5 people can go”
We quickly downed our beer and went down to the beach where the boat was waiting. Ronnie the boatman patrols the beaches and collects the eggs to take to the turtle sanctuary on the next island. Without his intervention the turtle population would really struggle
We sailed across a dark sea with only the stars above us to a remote beach, 3 other guests had joined us.
We pulled up on the beach and tiptoed behind Ronnie, There were no flashlights allowed and we were sworn to silence. We had to duck under vegetation at the back of the beach and as our eyes became accustomed to the dark we were able to make out the turtle. She had dug a deep hole, Ronnie gestured us to come behind the turtle, once away from her head we were able to shine a dim flashlight into the hole. As each egg was laid the Ronnie collected it and placed it into a bucket. The turtle laid 115 altogether, all the size of ping-pong balls. After a while she then began to cover the hole with sand. This was a long laborious job and we
could hear several long loud sighs from the poor creature. Little did she know that the eggs were no longer there, but of course we had to let nature take its true course. Ronnie covered the eggs with cool sand and buried the bucket someway off until morning. He assured us they would be safe from predators until next morning when he would collect them and take them to the sanctuary. There are large monitor lizards on this island and they would take the eggs if left in the nest. Apparently, left to nature, of the 115 eggs laid only one would be likely to survive to maturity. The eggs would be buried on the neighbouring island where there are no monitor lizards and once hatched would be looked after and fed with tuna fish until a month old when they would be stronger and their shells hardened. Hopefully this way more would survive.
After a short while we left as it can take the turtle up to two hours to cover the hole and make her way back to the sea.
Early next morning we went back with the boat to see the
eggs being collected, they were exactly as we’d left them. The tracks the turtle had made on her way back to the sea were clearly visible. We also found more as though she’d been searching for a suitable place. Ronnie left for the neighbouring island and we stayed taking photos and snorkelling. It was still only 8.20am.
The walk back was tough as the tide was high and we ended up rock scrambling for a lot of the way. We arrived back at 10.30 and downed a much needed coffee.
We felt privileged to have witnessed such a rare sight.
The next few days we spent snorkelling, relaxing on the beach, enjoying cool afternoons under the shady tree and evenings watching the sunsets from the decking.
We are almost at the end of our trip and this is the perfect place to wind down and reflect on the places we’ve visited.
Before I could get to publish this blog we have arrived home so I have now added photos to the Philippines blog titled 'Pandan Island, A Turtle Heaven'. if you want to look back.
Also, just to clarify things. We swam with giant Green turtles on Pandan Island, Philippines but it was on a Malaysian island that we saw the turtle laying eggs.
There are more photos below