We had the chance to pass some days with our university in Redang, an island in the South China Sea, not far from our town on the eastern coast of Malaysia. Redang hosts many big resorts for tourists, but there is still a beautiful bay which is like a little untouched paradise. Its name is Chagar Hutang, and it hosts an important sea turtle research unit (SEATRU). In this beach every year, hundreds of sea turtle arrive for nesting, and preserving this place has central importance for turtles conservation. Even if marine turtles have an important role in marine ecosystems, their eggs keep on being caught and sold by fishermen. In South-East Asia, this is a big ecological problem, and the university has an active campaign to fight against the turtle eggs consumption.
Here we saw female turtles climbing the beach and looking for the best place to dig their nest in the sand, then laying eggs (more than one hundred!) and camouflaging the nest to avoid predators attacks.
We could also help with some activities like rescuing some of the hatchlings that were stuck in the nest: they are called heroes, as they help the upper hatchlings to get out of the nest first, but normally they don’t manage to go up to the surface on their own. So, after taking them from the nest during the night they are released on the beach. During the day, it would be too dangerous as too many predators are around and they wouldn’t be able to orientate with the sunlight.