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Hatching a surprise

Visitors watch in awe as a sea turtle lays her eggs on Kuta Beach. Photo courtesy of Bali Sea Turtle Society

Publication Date : 26-02-2013


An adult Olive Ridley turtle surprises beach visitors in Bali


Officials and visitors on Kuta Beach in Bali received a rare surprise on Monday afternoon when an adult Olive Ridley turtle visited the sandy shore of the beach and laid her eggs. Sea turtles usually lay eggs on a quiet beach and under the cover of darkness.

“This is amazing. It is the first time we've seen a sea turtle lay eggs on a bright sunny day ever since we started managing turtle conservation at Kuta Beach about 12 years ago,” said I Gusti Ngurah Tresna, popularly known as Mr. Turtle, who manages the turtle hatching site at Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

The Olive Ridley turtle is one of seven species of turtle found in Indonesian waters. They usually compete to find the best place to nest on the beach. Kuta Beach is one of their favourites, with many female turtles usually laying eggs on the famous beach. However, they normally come once the beach is quiet and tourists have left.

The presence of the turtle soon attracted a large throng of people, including tourists, beach boys and traders. Staff from the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center had to establish a human wall around the turtle to prevent the mob from disturbing the endangered species.

“All visitors, including tourists, were really excited to watch the turtle lay her eggs. It is a rare moment,” said Ngurah Tresna, who also known as Gung Aji.

The turtle was first spotted by a worker as he picked up trash on the beach. The turtle was seen slowly moving out of the sea past Segara Temple, which lies near Kuta art market.

The turtle used her forelimbs to dig a hole about 50 centimetres deep before laying her eggs and covering the hole. On her way back to sea, the turtle dug another hole and buried it hurriedly.

“The second hole is usually a ruse to fool natural predators.”

The 68 centimetre-long turtle stayed on the beach for approximately 120 minutes before leaving.

The team from the Bali Sea Turtle Society then relocated the eggs from the original nest to a protected hatching site, some 300 metres away.

“Inside the nest we found 101 eggs. They are now safe in our hatching site,” Dionisius Utama, field manager of Bali Sea Turtle Society, said.

Dionisius estimated that the turtle was approximately 50 years old.

“The eggs will hatch in around 45 to 60 days,” he said.

Since early this year, as many as nine sea turtles have laid a total of 950 eggs on Kuta Beach.

The Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is jointly managed and operated by the Kuta Beach Security Taskforce and Bali Sea Turtle Society. In 2012, the centre witnessed the birth of 25,000 baby turtles at its facility.


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