Borneo: Indonesia + Malaysia - July 2013
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Off the coast of Borneo, Indonesia, the island of Derawan and its archipelago are an incredible place to observe turtles.
They sleep in the corals. They breathe on the surface, offshore between two waves, or near men under pontoons.
Turtles swim and parade in the waters of the Derawan Archipelago. There, they are called "penyu". It's everywhere!
Underwater, we can see them taking astonished or haughty poses, when divers pass by with their noisy string of bubbles. They have on us the superiority of their long apneas.
If we disturb them, they go off with calm and determination. A few clawed flippers are enough to dig the distance.
But most of the time, they ignore us superbly. Some of them stay asleep in the coral, their eyes half closed. Others are too busy grazing the reef with their beaks.
They're beautiful, these turtles. Some of them are really big. We come across them on almost every dive!
At night, we can also observe them on the sand, when they come to lay their eggs. Another "emotion" sequence...
The eggs are all round and all white, similar to ping-pong balls.
There is a small turtle nursery in Derawan, which is run by a local WWF office.
It already existed during my previous visit, in 2009. I had published an article on the subject, at the time (you will find links and additional information):
→ Small turtle will become big
The eggs laid on the beach are then dug up by the men in charge of the conservation program, then put back to hatch under the sand, but inside the protective enclosure of the nursery, where nothing will threaten them.
When the babies break the shell to get out, the WWF guys release them at night, on the beach. The tiny turtles then set off towards the sea and their destiny.
Tourists, foreigners and Indonesians alike, love to watch the laying of eggs or the release of babies.
In 2009, I could observe dozens and dozens of small turtles trotting valiantly on the sand and disappearing in the shadow of the waves.
In this month of July 2013, I was lucky enough to witness a spawning!
He is one of the dive guides of Derawan Dive Lodge where I am staying who warns me, one evening, that it is the moment... One of the guys of the WWF center alerted him on his cell phone. A female started to lay eggs on the sand, two steps away from the nursery.
In principle, all noise and bright lights should be avoided. But the instructions are far from being respected. The news has spread in the village, more and more people arrive and surround the unfortunate turtle... And many cannot resist the photo-souvenir, fingers raised in V, next to the exhausted turtle that has just laid more than a hundred eggs.
The WWF guy also shows us, that evening, two baby turtles, from another clutch, that we will exceptionally put in the water.
Normally, the babies are all released together. I couldn't quite figure out if they were eggs that hatched before or after the others.
Anyway, he let us take one of these little creatures in our hands, with a soft shell, and put it on the wet sand...
Good luck, little turtle!!