A local organization is fighting for one of the ocean’s very precious creatures.
Bali’s beaches are, in a word, beautiful. Stretches of white sand hug gently rolling waves where children splash playfully. Colourful boats bob amicably as the tide gently rolls in and out. Closely bordering the beach are restaurants and hotels packed shoulder-to-shoulder as far as the eye can see. Every so often, the sands peppered with beach towels and recliners are broken up by a circle of posts surrounded with blue plastic cordoning off a portion of the beach.
These informal blockades are protecting a very important part of Bali’s ecosystem — its sea turtles.
Six out of seven species of sea turtles call Bali home. All of these species, including Green sea turtles like this one, are endangered or vulnerable due to loss of habitat, pollution and the now-illegal Balinese tradition of consuming turtle meat, eggs and killing turtles for their shells.
With the native sea turtle populations dwindling, organizations like the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre on Serangan Island, Bali, have stepped in to help. The TCEC aims to eradicate the illegal trading of sea turtles on the island through encouraging the local community not to consume sea turtles or use sea turtle products, and by supporting turtle conservation while monitoring the illegal turtle trade.
The TCEC is supported by the World Wildlife Fund, the Provincial Nature Resource Conservation Agency, public officials and authorities and the local community.
The centre also takes measures to directly protect sea turtles through offering a safe haven for injured turtles, moving turtle nests away from tourist-filled beaches and burying eggs in a secure place to hatch. The eggs are bred at the centre and the baby turtles are raised for one month before being released. These Olive Ridley sea turtles are one day old.
Three out of seven turtle species are kept at the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre facility, including Green sea turtles, Olive Ridley sea turtles and Hawksbill sea turtles.
Another important aspect of TCEC’s work is to educate humans concerning the importance of protecting sea turtle populations through talking to community groups, schools and the media throughout Indonesia.
Additionally, the centre creates jobs and helps local individuals build life skills through creating environmentally friendly souvenirs.
To learn more about what the TCEC is doing to help increase sea turtle populations in Bali, take a look at their website. If you would like to support the TCEC’s efforts, please inquire about volunteer opportunities, donate or adopt a baby sea turtle today.
Photos and text by Sarah Comber.