Where ‘turtles’ join you on your vacation!

Her love for the beaches took Elsie Gabriel to Bali, where she was fascinated by unique turtle conservation efforts by the local government.

Watching any living creature lay eggs is a breathtaking experience. It’s like stepping back in time where one forgets the madness the world comprises of and comes to appreciate the beautiful gift of life. It is creation at its best!

Elsie at the Marine Turtle Farm Field

I was in Bali, at the Moncot Sari Turtle Farm, Turtle Island, dedicated solely to turtle conservation. Here I was, watching the caretakers call out the vital signs of a healthy turtle, after carefully measuring and weighing them, checking their back, flippers and beaked head for injuries. For as far as my eyes could get, there were turtles with splendid beauty – striped, wiggly, fat! Shrugging off the Hard Rock Café plan for being at this Island was something I loved myself for. I was in complete harmony with nature.

Turtle Island illustrates how the government in Bali made a dramatic turnaround by giving the illegal turtle traders a suitable site job and educating them to help turn away from unlawful trading. Today, the island inhabitants have given up turtle-killing and instead help the authorities to monitor nesting turtles in order to build a greater understanding of these endangered animals. Volunteers patrol the beach to record nesting success, take vital statistics and install devices that protect eggs from feral predators.

Elsie Gabriel with a marine turtle on Turtle Island

At the turtle farm, each hatchery cell has different sized turtles, depending on their age. I visited each hatchery and fell in love with these marvelous creatures. I even gathered the courage to dive into the water pool to see closely the fins and shells of adult turtles. It was exhilarating to add information to the custodian’s records and to contribute my time towards the conservation effort. And just when I thought I was done, a playful juvenile marine turtle gently rubbed my feet in the water, and paddled away even before I could touch it. At that very moment I knew I had made new friends and I felt so much at home.

The present day marine ecosystem faces pressure from pollution, climate change and other human activities. This remote island has truly stood the test of time in emerging as an icon for marine life conservation, all thanks to the local authorities. Their efforts are truly praise worthy and also stand as an example for others to follow.  Turtle Island brings not only new hope for highly endangered marine turtles, but also for the local village tourism. Although the turtle island trail was just twenty minutes away from Tanjung Benoa, a short ride on a rented glass bottom boat from Tanjung Benoa Beach was refreshingly insightful.

I am a beach lover! My undying desire to holiday at beaches has taken me to many beautiful places. But the trip to Turtle Island will always stand out in my travelogue, for it seemed like not just me, but some other beautiful creatures joined me on my vacation.

Author: Elsie Gabriel

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