Indonesia

Lessons learned from Bali Sea Turtle Society (BSTS)

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Take a walk with a turtle.
And behold the world in pause.
~Bruce Feiler

Bruce Feiler does have a point. These delicate creatures unfortunately do not have a voice of their own and their numbers are dwindling. Efforts are being made to curb not only poachers but also ensure that the survival rates of the hatchlings slowly increase. We were shocked to face the stats – usually only one out of a thousand hatchlings survive the mighty ocean.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to witness a turtle release during our stay in Bali, Indonesia a few weeks ago. The Bali Sea Turtle Society invites the public to join hands and be a part of the turtle release as and when it happens, as it gets difficult to precisely predict when the eggs would hatch.

Bali Sea Turtle Society - the 'incubator'

Bali Sea Turtle Society – the ‘incubator’

Established in the year 2011, this non profit non government organization works very closely with the community to not only protect the turtles, but their nests as well.
The ‘mama turtle’ stands out at Kuta beach and it acts as the incubator until the eggs are ready to hatch.

Incubating the eggs at Kuta Beach

Incubating the eggs at Kuta Beach

The turtle release is usually carried out during sunset and visitors by the beach are advised to stay clear from the path of the brave little turtles, that steadily inch towards uncertain foamy waters.

To participate (at absolutely no cost), all you have to do is stand in line.
This was a heart warming experience for us and we were glad we got involved – even though it was for a brief while.
If you’re visiting Kuta beach to witness the hatchlings being released, it’s advisable to take a look at their Facebook page to stay updated with the schedules. Run the extra mile and volunteer if you can, or even donate.
We were instructed to not hold the hatchlings with a tight grip as their shells are still tender. Also, flash photography isn’t allowed around the baby turtles. That evening, we released over 120 baby turtles – I hope at least one percent of them made it to the deep blue sea.

The baby turtles at BSTS

The baby turtles at BSTS

Lessons taken back home?

Get the children involved
At BSTS, the children are prioritized when it comes to releasing the reptiles, as the volunteers feel that this encourages them to stay involved with conserving the ecosystem at a tender age. This was a clever thought indeed. Look what I managed to capture while I was waiting in line:

A little visitor carefully carries her brave warrior at BSTS

A little visitor carefully carries her brave warrior at BSTS, Bali

Responsible tourism and eco-tourism bridges cultures
Not only did the local community get involved here, but the tourists were called in as well. People were supporting each other and keeping an eye out for one another’s little turtle that was bobbing around in the plastic containers.
These hatchlings are vigorous so don’t be fooled by their petite sizes! Mine nearly crawled out of the container.

About to release the turtles - BSTS

About to release the turtles – BSTS, Bali

It’s not just about the experience – it’s about spreading an awareness as well
Thanks to the initiatives of Bali Sea Turtle Society, the visitors at Kuta beach seemed to have developed a soft spot for these endangered species and some of them even travel across the world just to volunteer here.
It was a remarkable twenty minutes for us as we witnessed scores of these young reptiles race each other towards the ocean. We were a bit nervous initially as Turbo (that’s what we had named the little one) crawled towards the rolling waves. Did he (or she) make it? We don’t know for certain, but we sure do hope so.

About to release the baby turtles at Kuta

About to release the baby turtles at Kuta

"Do not step ahead of the line", they said. The area beyond that belonged to the little ones.

“Do not step ahead of the line”, they said. The area beyond that belonged to the little ones.

Live the moment and appreciate the smaller things in life 
Watching the baby turtles race towards the liberating waters made me realize how beautiful the simple pleasures in life were. It was all there – that very moment.
The dipping sun, my best friend right beside me, the sun-kissed moist sand and this abominable cloud of positive energy from children and adults. Everyone cheered on as these turtles dashed towards the sea.

We were instructed to not walk around as soon as the waves hit our ankles because there was a possibility that a few of the baby turtles might roll back on land. When this happens , a volunteer quickly scans the area and guides the stray turtles towards the water again. This happens for a good fifteen minutes or so until every turtle has made it to the ocean.

And they're off! BSTS Bali

And they’re off! BSTS Bali

A trail of turtles at Kuta beach

A trail of baby turtles at Kuta beach

These baby turtles are almost there

Almost there, mates!

"Don't move your feet please, the turtles are trying to find their way back home", he said. We cheered instead.

“Don’t move your feet when the waves come back, please? The turtles are trying to find their way home”, he said. We cheered instead.

And people celebrated the turtles departure shortly after we were told it was safe to enter the water again.

And people celebrated the turtles’ departure shortly after we were told it was safe to enter the water again.

In case you missed the action on Instagram, the clip below will hopefully direct you to the video that shows Turbo in action.

Comestible regards,
Judy Sebastian

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: World Turtle News, 10/08/2015 – theTurtleRoomtheTurtleRoom

  2. Food She Blogged

    October 8, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you World Turtle News for featuring this post as well 🙂

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