Throwback Thursday – Turtle Islands Park – Part 1

So, last week I took a trip down memory lane to the warm climate of Africa.  Today, I am still dreaming of warmer places so how about coming along to Malaysia??


I am recalling one of the highlights of our 2014 trip...our visit to Turtle Island Park.  It's about a 1 hour powerboat ride off the coast of Malaysia near Sandakan.I am a big fan of boats as my dad used to own one back in the day. This one was comparatively quite fast to the one we had as this used the lithium ion batteries for trolling motors to travel long distances within a short period of time. Turtle Islands Park is comprised of 3 islands near to one another in the Pacific Ocean where both Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles come year round to lay their eggs on the beaches.  The local parks service has done an great job of protecting the wildlife while allowing people to learn more about these amazing creatures from 1st hand experience.  The public is only allowed one of the 3 islands.


Waiting for the boats to depart.  The kids weathered the wait wonderfully despite Thys' face in this picture.  He was probably more upset about me taking the picture than anything else.   It is hot in Malaysia.  Wicked hot!!!  By far the hottest of all the places we visited.

Two boats departed together and here the kids were watching the boat ahead of us wondering about who would arrive first.


Malaysian fishing boats with baitcaster under 200 anchored just offshore.



Zan fell asleep on the way to the island.


Saw this one right after we came across a Western Hognose Snake.


One of our first animal sightings on the island was this monitor lizard.  Monitor lizards are poised every night just waiting for the mother turtle to move off so they can raid the nest for a midnight snack.   Park staff wait just out of sight for a mother turtle to begin laying eggs and then move in as she goes into her egg laying trance.  They collect the eggs as she lays them and promptly rebury them in the island's "nursery"--an area of the island completely protected from monitor lizards and other predators such as hawks.  Since they collect eggs every night, there are hatchlings to release every night as well.


Even little guys like this one could do a lot of damage to a sea turtle nest and its contents.

This big guy could take out a whole clutch (over a hundred eggs) in one sitting!


This one might have already had a few for breakfast by the looks of the tummy!



We headed to the beach upon arrival and found this turtle path that some mama turtle left the night before.  Some turtles come far past the beach looking for a spot to lay her eggs.  It was exciting to see a promise of what the evening had in store for us!

We enjoyed the sand and sun but the clear, warm water was by far the best part!!!



Snorkeling with my iphone in it's waterproof case!

My favorite, the Parrot fish!




This guy wasn't very happy with me for following him around.  He was quite aggressive!





We taught the big kids to snorkel and they LOVED it!  Josiah especially took to the sport.  He thinks we need to live in a place where we can go snorkeling every day!


My island princess!


Alia, Josiah and Daddy found this giant shell on their walk during the little boy's rest time.  As they were showing this to me a couple of the guys who work on the island came over to tell us they had just found a handful of hatchlings in the grass that either got missed by the park rangers when they were collected or that survived a lizard attack.




A bucket full of little squirmers!


So the guys took the bucket to the beach and handed Alia and Josiah each a hatchling and they released them all together.  So amazing!

I was so happy that my bigs each got a chance to hold a little newly hatched baby and release it back to the ocean.  What an experience!  After the awe of the moment wore off a little I began to feel sad knowing that Thys would be upset when he found out later that the big kids got to hold and release a baby turtle while he was sleeping.   But that is another story...


Becky Kortman

I'm a homeschooling, world traveling, Jesus follower who is a wife and mom of 4 kids, In all my travels, I am looking for places that fit with my soul and feel as much like 'home' as they can this side of heaven.

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