A National Park for turtle Conservation
Pulau Talang Kecil and Pulau Talang-Talang Besar in Sarawak are the National Parks devoted to marine turtle conservation especially the greenback turtles. Included in the National Park is the four islands, that is, Pulau Satang Besar, Pulau Satang Kecil, Pulau Talang-Talang Besar and Pulau Talang-Talang Kecil. Thus, it is better known as Talang-Satang National Park under the jurisdiction of the State Government. A permit for entry has to be obtained from the Forestry Department before entry is allowed as they are restricted area. Beside that, all forms of fishing are banned.
One of my fond memories of living in Kuching was the opportunity given to me to get up-close and personal with the turtles. Being a member of Malaysian Nature Society, I was able to join their activities, one of which is volunteering in turtle conservation work in Pulau Talang-Talang Kecil. A handful of photos brought me back to the sweet encounter with these gentle creature. Though it was a short 2 days work, it has given me such pleasure, understanding and love for these sea turtles.
The beaches were clean and white, undulating and undisturbed by human's hands. The greenback turtles chose these islands to lay eggs and they came ashore at night looking for comfortable pits to lay their eggs. Many laboriously dug the sand but later changed their minds and went looking for another spots. A few couldn't find a pit that they liked until morning and had to go back to the sea in the hope they could find good ones of their choice in the same island or another island next night. I kept watched of their behaviour right through the night. Those who were able to lay eggs, flipped sands around them to cover their precious eggs but the volunteers had already marked the spot with a stick. We left the creature alone but vigil in case of any marauders. A few of us were given task to take and record the measurements of these turtles who lay eggs. For those who slept through the night, missed this excitement. Cameras with flash were forbidden when the turtles laying eggs. At least, we showed some respect for their privacy.
I salute the workers for their dedication, leaving their families for weeks on the mainland while they keep vigil of the turtles who come to lay eggs. Many of the eggs failed to hatch and few baby turtles succeeded in getting to the sea. But how many would survive till they matured we do not know. It was hard work digging the unhatched eggs in the sands. They leave a nasty stench and we had to do this under the scorching hot sun. But the evening was cool and clear with glittering stars above.
Through trial and error, I managed to learn how to upload photos, though deleting is still a mystery to me. I'll get it one day.