Baby turtles run to the sea ... (Berawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Baby turtles run to the sea ... (Berawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

Small turtle will become big

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

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: 

During the day, turtles from Derawan Island swim under the pontoons. At night, they lay their eggs in the still warm sand.

A small peaceful village

In Derawan, a small island on the east coast of Borneo, Indonesia, life is simple and rustic, facing the sea.

The village, with its wooden houses on stilts, must be less than two thousand souls. We walk around the island without hurrying in less than an hour.

I spent a good ten days there ...

The village on stilts in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
The village on stilts in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Beach in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Beach in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

Turtle nursery

Derawan is Turtle Island! A small WWF center, located at the losmen Danakan, where I was staying, takes care of their conservation.

In Derawan, turtles come to swim under the pontoons. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
In Derawan, turtles come to swim under the pontoons. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

The WWF center in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).In the evening, we see young people working for the center leave, with a long metal rod to search the sand and a flashlight.

Every night, they walk the beach to harvest turtle eggs.

When they find them, they put them to hatch, sheltered, in a small incubator installed near the Derawan Dive Resort.

A few weeks later, when the eggs hatch, they release the baby turtles at nightfall.

I had the chance to attend the event, along with Paul and Becky, my English friends, and Margot, another French woman who was staying with us at the Danakan losmen. One of the young guys from the WWF Center had arranged to meet us, saying that they would release the little turtles at 9pm.

One time is not customary in Indonesia: to release turtles, time is of the hour ... And we arrived just in time on the beach to see the tiny creatures dart with fearlessness towards the waves.

Baby turtles are released after dark on Derawan Beach. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Baby turtles are released after dark on Derawan Beach. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Baby turtles run to the sea ... (Berawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Baby turtles run to the sea ... (Berawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

It's a moving spectacle to watch these dozens of baby turtles wander the waves in the dim light.

It is necessary to extinguish the lamps, to limit the photos because of the flashes ... It disturbs the small animals, who then start to climb on your bare feet, magnetized by the light. Above all, do not move, so as not to risk crushing them!

The immense and obscure sea soon grabs them. Only 1% will survive. They do not lack predators. At this age, they are easy and fragile prey.

Small turtle will become big, as long as God gives it life ...

Derawan, the turtle island

In Derawan, evening and morning, when I take the cool on the terrace of my room on stilts, I hear the breath of turtles coming to breathe on the surface.

Turtle in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

Every day, you can swim with them, observe them just with a mask and a snorkel. Derawan's turtles are not shy.

In Derawan, a banana leaf attracts turtles for sure ... (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)

It is true that they are pampered here.

At Losmen Danakan, as soon as new tourists move in, Harris, who runs the guesthouse with the nice lady called Mama Rina, hangs a banana leaf on the end of a string to attract the turtles.

Obviously, they love it because it works every time! One or two turtles are not long in approaching and start to graze the leaf shamelessly.

On the pontoon, newcomers, young and old, rave about.

After a few days, we get used to it. But if amazement is dulled, wonder remains.

Banana leaf attracts turtles for sure ... (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, 2009)
Banana leaf attracts turtles for sure ... (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, 2009)
Turtles in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Yum, yum ... (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, 2009)

I did some dives on the reef of Derawan, near the pontoons.

Visi not terrible, atmosphere "muck-dive" (with lots of nudibranchs and small creatures friendly to flash). But, each time, there too, we are almost certain to cross one or more turtles ... I will post a small underwater film soon.

Threatened turtles

The abundance of turtles in Derawan would almost forget that they are threatened.

This is the second time that I have witnessed initiatives in Indonesia to protect them (remember the turtle nursery Pemuteran, Bali). Drops of water in the ocean, unfortunately ...

Indonesian law prohibits the fishing of turtles, whether for their meat or the shell of their shell. But illegal fishing continues. Moreover, in Derawan itself, there are shops and street vendors offering you various tortoiseshell baubles.


I invite you to watch this short movie from WWF below. It reviews the threats to turtles in the Coral Triangle, which covers the seas of the Indo-Pacific zone dear to my heart.

Even if you do not understand English, the beautiful underwater images are sufficient on their own. You will also be able to see the scene that I describe above, when baby turtles rush towards the sea ... Initiatives carried out in the region of Berau (area where Derawan belongs) are also cited as an example.


Some links

→ Wikipedia: Sea turtle (in French)

→ WWF: Threatened marine turtles (in French)

→ WWF: Protecting marine turtles in the Indo-Pacific (in English)

→ (in French)

→ (in French)

→ Blog of Marjolinj Christianen (in English) [Remember, this is the young Dutch girl I met in Derawan, who studies algae and turtles for her doctorate ... We became "sisters in pain": a few days after me, she too made sting with a stingray stashed in the sand.]

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

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  1. I honestly hope that the jewels are in toc and not as they claim in tortoiseshell? ....
    During my first stay in Mayotte in 2005, I had witnessed the hatching of turtle eggs and the babies were instinctively heading towards the sea, a magical moment! How many will survive birds, marine predators and humans, too few ...
    My mother and friends hikers saved in extremis a turtle came to lay on a deserted beach. She had stuck in the roots of a tree, her shell was deformed, she regained hard the sea after they cleared ... and it weighs heavy adult green turtle!
    I reviewed the photos recently and it is very moving because without their passage on this beach she would have died after giving life.
    Me I prepare for my 3 weeks in the West Indies, at least a week in Dominica to see the seahorses, antennas and underwater bubbles escaped underwater volcanic activities.
    In Paris either it is not very beautiful today so it makes change ideas.

  2. @LiseMet: Hmm ... I always wonder if it was real shell or not. It looked like it, anyway. For my part, it was the first time I attended this great departure of baby turtles for the vast ocean. Very moving.
    Seahorses, antennas and bubbles from the depths? Very attractive program ... Happy holidays in Dominica!

  3. Ah, the bungalows on stilts of Derawan! ... I liked, but you have to get used to the rippling waves against the piles. By calm sea it is a happiness, by agitated sea it is less comfortable ...

    At dinner time I saw the turtles also, and some rays. Yet, even if they seem to be there spontaneously I do not really like the "aquarium" side. Without knowing why really! It's nice and graceful to admire, but I think I prefer to cross spontaneously underwater, random underwater exploration.

    But Derawan is worth seeing, that's for sure. Especially if you need to decompress a lot!
    🙄 🙄

  4. @A World Elsewhere: Me too, I prefer when they appear spontaneously, turtles, without the need to bait them with banana leaves. But what is pleasant to Derawan is that they very often swim under the pontoons spontaneously. Early in the morning, when everything is calm, we even hear them breathe ... We are far from everything, in Derawan. Really ideal for a real "break".

  5. @ Marie-Julie: I finally found the hack to do in the code to insert a small image automatically according to a given tag. I'm testing ... Nice that you like it.

  6. Hello Corinne,

    I land on your blog and I devour your articles for a few hours! Thank you for sharing your words and your images, it feels good.

    I also met this kind of initiatives for turtles on Gili Meno near Lombok. Drops of water in the ocean, as you say, but it's nice to see that some have this awareness, and that every day, on their scale, they participate in the protection of sea turtles.

  7. @Marion: Welcome to Little Bubbles Elsewhere, and I'm glad you like it!
    I remember meeting many turtles while diving or even snorkeling at the Gili Islands near Lombok a few years ago. I am convinced that all these modest initiatives contribute, at least locally, to the maintenance of the turtle population, as well as to raising the awareness of the local people.