Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
78Trip End Aug 16, 2010
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We were a little sceptical about going to Turtle Island, one, because it was pretty expensive for ¾ of a day including overnight, and secondly, because we didn't fancy participating in some sort of contrived tourist trap.
The small island is reached by a bumpy sea crossing and is the nesting ground to the large Green and smaller Hawksbill turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand on the beach. An organisation runs the turtle sanctuary which collects the buried eggs and then re-buries them in a safe cordoned off area for hatching some 60 days later. The newborn turtles are then taken to the water’s edge and released into the sea
We spent the afternoon on the north beach and it was the first time that Issy and Ady had a proper go at snorkelling on a coral reef. It was quite shallow and whilst not in great condition, the coral provided them with a real taster for the underwater world of colours and amazing fish.
The turtles come ashore at night between possibly 6pm at sunset to dawn the following day although it is not uncommon for none to come ashore depending on the season. Apparently a few nights before the tourists waited up until 3pm without any show. We were fortunate, at around 8pm just after dinner we were called along with the 30 others, to go to the beach as a turtle was starting to lay her eggs. We gathered around the huge momma and watched incredulously as she delivered 68 eggs in a trance like state. Apparently the trance is normal and she would have been unaware of us being there, bit dubious about that as I tried desperately to get a decent photo without flash, like the others
That was it, 40 minutes of activity and we had finished. The next morning we all left on the even bumpier boat ride back to a rainy Sandakan at 8am and found out that around 15 turtles had actually laid eggs that evening.