Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Turtle’s Home – Sangalaki Island, East Kalimantan
A visit to Maratua Island usually includes an island-hopping tour to Kakaban and Sangalaki islands. That’s exactly what we did. You can read about the visit to Kakaban Island here, and the brief visit to Sangalaki was done shortly before that.
Sangalaki Island in the Derawan archipelago of East Kalimantan is known as the place where turtles lay eggs. It’s also where Daihatsu as a corporation donate a good amount of money as their CSR project, to help save turtles from extinction. Upon our visit, we were given thorough information by the conservation officers about the birthing process, the growth of turtles, and things we should or shouldn’t do to support the conservation.
The turtles conserved in Sangalaki are mainly the Green Sea Turtles (Penyu Hijau) or the Chelonia mydas. It’s – predictably – green, has a short and curved beak, and only eats algae and sea grasses. In average, there are 3,000 turtles lay eggs in Sangalaki Island, 800 eggs from each turtle. Statistically, only about 80% continue to live, and only 1 out of 1,000 turtles survive to be full-grown. When full-grown, the width of their shells could reach up to 75 cm or about 2.5 ft. Living creatures that might be the predators of turtles include human, crabs, sharks, eagles, and seagulfs.
“These turtles, will come back to the island to lay eggs. They always find the same island they were hatched in to lay eggs,” a conservation officer explained. That’s interesting, it’s like turtles have the sense of hometown or something. “Other turtles might also come here to lay eggs, especially if their original habitat has been damaged, too crowded with construction, badly polluted or damaged by abrasion,” he added.
Turtles always lay eggs at night and aren’t fond of lights or human presence, but if you’d like to see the process just contact the conservation center and they might arrange a sighting for you. Peak season of laying eggs is usually between July and September. There is a resort with a couple of cottages on the island, costing about IDR1,250,000/person/night, including meals.
What we human can do to help preserve turtles include: keep the beach clean, no littering in the sea, avoid eating turtle’s meat or eggs, not in any way supporting the selling or buying of turtle eggs, leave it alone and not capture it even though they might look exotic in your aquarium. Last but not least, tell your friends, family, students, co-workers, neighbors and perhaps yoga mates about turtle conservation.
Visitng Sangalaki Island doesn’t only allow you to get to know more about turtles, but it also offers beautiful beach with soft white sand that borders with light blue sea. You can snorkel and dive around the island, or just tan up on the beach and play baywatch on the tree.
(tree with prue)