They are magnificent and they are endangered, and before they slowly fade out of our lives, catch a glimpse of them at any of these exclusive spots.
Turtle Island Park, Sandakan (Malaysia)
If you have ever paid attention to your geography lessons, this national park should be no stranger to you. Located 40 kilometres north of Sandakan, not only is it a safe haven for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles, but it is also a perfect site for tourists to witness the hatching of eggs. In this beautiful park, you can play a part in the collection of turtle eggs and tagging of mother turtles, and you can enjoy releasing cute baby turtles into the sea. Of course it sounds exciting. Getting close to these creatures is not something that happens everyday.
Tioman Island, Pahang (Malaysia)
To see turtles in their natural habitat, try going scuba diving or deep-sea snorkelling. In Tioman Island’s clear and serene waters, it won’t be long before you see turtles beneath you. Freshwater turtles, such as the soft-shelled turtle (one of the fastest turtles to move on land) can be found residing in shallow streams in the rainforests of Tioman. So do not worry if you don’t catch sight of any turtles during your morning swim. You might meet one during a trek through the forests.
Rantau Abang, Terengganu (Malaysia)
Once well known for the vast number of Leatherback Turtles that came ashore to hatch, Rantau Abang has gradually lost its splendour. Grasp this opportunity to visit this renowned site before it’s too late because the reported numbers of nestlings have dwindled drastically from 11,000 nestlings in the 1950s to less than 10 in 1999. These sensitive marine creatures, which are not accustomed to stress, have migrated to other seashores because of the irresponsible acts of tourists. Sightseers were seen riding on the turtles, snapping photographs proudly, while children were spotted pulling at their flippers. Turtles don’t bite, and are restricted by their cumbersome bodies, so they can’t escape the vacationers’ clutches. But with a little bit of concerted effort, perhaps we can protect these precious creatures.
Tortuguero National Park (Costa Rica)
If you are rich or happen to have spare cash, why not fly to Costa Rica to see more than four species of turtles. These turtles are not timid. It’s even possible to see them laying eggs during the day, although mass landings on the beach occur at night. If you’re lucky, you might get the opportunity to see an even more spectacular and rare event — hatched baby turtles racing towards the sea. Even if you are not a great fan of turtles, visiting the Tortuguero National Park can still bring joy and excitement since it has a variety of wildlife and is home to more than 300 species of vividly coloured birds.
Laniakea, Oahu, Hawaii (USA)
The paradise for turtle watchers is also known as Honulani or Turtle Beach. The turtles here are not in the least bit shy. They climb up the beach and stay there while turtle lovers come towards them with cameras. However, some tourists forget themselves at the sight of the turtles and have even been known to sit on them. Yes, sit. Although this is not intended to harm the turtles, it is important to increase awareness about caring for turtles. At every one of these exotic places, much effort has been put into protecting the turtles and their eggs. So when visiting, please remember to appreciate them and handle them with respect, and you too can do your part to prevent these precious animals from being lost to us forever.
By Eer Kai Song and Teh Wen Wen,
both 17, Selangor