Adventure: Turtle

Turtle-watching is a must when one is at Terengganu. Where would one go, you ask? Would it be the once famous destination, Rantau Abang? No longer, is what I would have said. Now, we visit Teluk Mak Nik, at Kampung Geliga Besar.

From my first turtle encounter last year on 30th Aug, I’ve been there 11 more times. Crazy to say, twice last year, ten times this year. Every trip has been amazing – the wonders of the night skies, the amazing strength of the turtles, and the people who are passionate about what they do to save the turtles every night, just takes my breath away each time I was there. The tourists who go there, however, can be truly “interesting” at times.

Below is a picture of a female turtle digging into the first phase of her nest preparation. This is one of the most critical stages if we want to see her lay her eggs, because, if she feels confronted or uncomfortable by the presence of humans, she’ll stop what she’s doing, and return to the sea.

a female turtle preparing her nest, digging a pit

a female turtle preparing her nest, digging a pit to protect herself from unwanted predators

It is only when the second phase, the egg chamber, is ready that Pak Su (the man in charge) and the rangers will allow tourists to watch the turtle lay her ping pong-sized eggs. Here, I’d like to advise all tourists to be civilised and take turns to watch the egg-laying process.

When she’s done with laying her eggs in the egg chamber, she’ll start to cover up her nest and disguise it to deter predators and turtle egg poachers. It is not easy to be a turtle mom, I presume. You’ll never know if your kids hatch, and even if they do, if they all survive to adulthood.

a female turtle covering her nest

a female turtle covering her nest

The whole process takes about two hours for tourists. As for the hardworking rangers who are passionate about saving turtles, their night had just begun.

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