We arrived in Bali late on Sunday night and pretty much since landing, I’ve had Facebook notifications turned on for the Bali Sea Turtle Society releases. I’ve also had Mount Arung eruption updates on but that’s a whole other story…
The society allows visitors to assist with the release of baby turtles into the sea. Hatching season is from April to October each year. Once a nest hatches, the society release the hatchlings into their natural habitat the very next day so that the turtles have plenty of energy to get home.
BSTS posts an announcement on Facebook if a release is happening that day. Lucky for us, I received a notification on our first full day in Bali that a release was happening!
You’re told to arrive by 4pm to collect a token (one per person) which you will exchange for a baby turtle just before the release at 4:30. Unfortunately, we’d only been in Bali around 12 hours and had no idea how horrific the traffic was! It reminded me of the traffic in Sri Lanka. The tourist areas of Seminyak and Kuta are so congested, mainly due to only a few roads supporting hundreds of tourist hotels and restaurants. We set off at 3:15pm to get there for 3:45, or so we thought.. we actually got there at 4:29 and had to run to join the back of the turtle queue. Luckily for us, the hatch we were releasing had produced hundreds of turtles, so there were actually more turtles than there were tokens.
Everyone was given a little plastic box to house their turtle, and some water, in for the short walk to the beach.
We helped to release a batch of leatherback turtles, one of the seven species that can be found in the waters of Indonesia. My turtle was really keen and kept climbing over the edge of the box. You’re not allowed to touch the turtles but I had to keep escorting him back inside so he didn’t fall straight to the sand!
Once we were in place (about 40 feet back from the water) we all lined up and crouched down, ready to release! An instructor from the society counted down so that we all tipped our turtles on to the sand at the same time.
It was lovely to see hundreds of the babies all flapping their way towards the sea at the same time. We were all instructed to stay behind the release line until the turtles had been swept in by the tide. After only about 5 minutes the majority were in the sea (including mine) and on to their adventures. There were a few stragglers however, some people were told to go and pick their turtles up and place them in the shallow sea for a helping hand.
I couldn’t believe how many people, and turtles, were involved in the release! There have been four releases this week (aka whilst we’ve been here) so there must be a lot of hatching going on right now.
The release is a free event but you can give a donation if you’d like to; BSTS also sell some merchandise to fundraise. I bought a cute little turtle bracelet for 10,000 IR (50p) and we donated around 50,000 too.
BSTS help endangered turtles in lots of different ways. They rescue and release turtles that have been traded or stranded, relocate nests to a protected environment to hatch (away from high tides, tourists and dogs), and educate local people about how to protect turtles.
I made a short (and fairly rubbish – lesson no.1 point your camera landscape!!) video of our experience here:
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