Friday, October 24, 2008

Turtle Power!

I hadn’t planned to spend the evening fully dressed, up to my knees in the Indian Ocean waving a mobile phone torch around, while my husband emptied a wastepaper basket full of newly hatched turtles onto the beach! It wasn’t exactly a ‘David Attenborough’ style production, but we did our very best to gather up the hatchlings that filled our villa garden one evening, which we discovered on our way to dinner.

Paul and Victoria had plans of a romantic dinner at the Banyan Tree Resort.....
so much for plans!

All plans for food were abandoned and we carefully picked our way through the turtles, collecting them gently in the basket to take to the sand to send on their way. There was no sign of a moon that night so the turtles chose the next best thing to follow, our porch light, which unfortunately was in the opposite direction to the sea!

Turtle hatchlings by the bucket full! Photo Elke Talma

With help from hotel security (as big and tough as they were they still went ‘ahhh how sweet’ when they saw the hatchlings) we collected every turtle that we could find from our garden and nearby villa gardens, and carried them to the beach where we carefully tipped them out onto the sand near the shore.

Immediately they set off across the sand straight back towards the villa! Since they naturally follow the brightest light source this meant that to get them to the sea I had to walk backwards with my mobile phone torch so that they would follow the light in the right direction. When I stopped at the shoreline, they did too and it was then I realised I was going to have to get wet! So I waded backwards through the water so that the turtles followed and got washed away with the tide, swimming eagerly as they departed. Eventually twenty minutes later all of the tiny turtles had finally been ushered into the sea, after a couple were dug out of crab holes they had slipped into, and they set off to begin their struggle to survive in the ocean.

We were both very excited about our accidental ‘turtle adventure’ and even more delighted to meet Elke (the turtle chick!) the next day who very patiently explained as much as she could about the hatchlings, their development and their very slim chances of survival, and the work that she does to educate the staff at the Banyan tree.

Turtle chick excavating the nest in Victoria and Paul's villa garden, photo Victoria & Paul

Thanks to her, we went home with lots more knowledge and a newly sparked interest in marine wildlife! Our experience was unforgettable and possibly a once in a lifetime chance to see newly hatched hawksbill turtles start their life in the ocean, and we hope that at least one turtle will make it back to visit Elke in the future!!

This post was contributed by Victoria and Paul Weatherer... Thank you!!

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Hello Victoria and Paul, welcome to the turtle world. Once you see those little hatchlings, feel the strength of them in your hand and then watch them into the ocean you are hooked. I still say Ahh aren't they sweet every time. I am so happy you were able to share this experience.