Making it’s way down to the big ol’ blue

20 01 2011

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The first hatchlings of 2010!

8 06 2010

“The turtles are hatching! The turtles are hatching!”

The excited cries could be heard halfway around Tioman as school students and staff dropped what they were doing and ran to take a look. On the 25th of May, Melina Beach Turtle Hatchery welcomed into the world the very first batch of turtle hatchlings for the season.

The baby Green turtles had spent 62 days beneath the sand and chose to emerge from their nest late on a sunny and warm afternoon. Perfect timing! At Melina Beach, turtle youngsters are kept safe in the hatchery until sunrise or sunset to prevent the bright lights of Tioman resorts confusing them at night.

Counting the turtle hatchlings and checking to make sure they are A-OK!

Before their release, the Ecofieldtrips staff checked and counted each hatchling. The delicate and time consuming job was gladly accepted by two of the newest members, Tara and Ling. Neither had experienced a hatchling release before and were instantly charmed by the swarm of frantic tiny flippers.

Out of the 119 eggs that were buried in the hatchery, a whopping 116 happy and healthy hatchlings emerged! This is a fantastic result; not only for the turtle hatchery’s already high success rate, but for the threatened Green sea turtle population. Unfortunately, unsustainable fishing techniques and egg poaching is taking its toll on many turtle species. Greens are listed as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN.

The extremely lucky year 7 students from TTS and some students from Seoul Foreign School became the envy of every school this year. The unexpected turtle hatching event occurred in the middle of their fieldtrips! Over 100 eager students lined the beach under the infamous sea pandan tree where the turtle mother originally laid her eggs.

Each student released one baby turtle and watched them scamper down the beach. The little whippersnappers were wished the best of luck as they left the sand and entered the big blue. Nobody really knows what happens in the life of a baby turtle, but as we watched, a myriad of tiny heads popping up for a breath of fresh air could be seen disappearing into the distance.

Good luck little ones!

Tara





Are you Green with envy?

13 04 2010

Another Green turtle has laid her nest on the beach adjacent to Melina Beach! Unfortunately, this time there were no witnesses, but high tide meant that no unwanted visitors made it to the nest that night!

Green Turtle tracks next to Melina Beach

Ecofieldtrips’ Managing Director Bridget Hedderman was informed of the nest early in the morning of the 4th April. We measured the tracks and determined that it was a different turtle to the previous week.

All in a morning's work

It  is really fantastic to know that turtles are still nesting naturally around Melina Beach – it means there is not too much human disturbance in terms of noise and light that has deterred mother turtles from laying their eggs on several of Tioman’s beaches for years now.

Female turtles lay their eggs on the same beach from which they hatched – even after years of migration. How they navigate their return nobody knows! Some think they “taste” the chemical signature of the sand when they are released, some think they can use the Earth’s magnetic core. Either way, it is a magical thing that these turtles would have hatched from these beaches decades ago. We hope that the hatchlings from our hatchery have safe beaches to return to when they become parents too!

Sam





2009 Melina Beach Turtle Hatchery Video

11 03 2010

Hi All,

Here is the new Melina Beach Turtle Hatchery video, made in conjunction with Ecofieldtrips. It features footage from our 2009 season, and adult turtles from dive trips on Tioman Island with Ecofieldtrips.

Enjoy!





Melina Beach Turtle Blog

21 07 2009

Melina Beach Turtle Blog Poster by one of the students from Ecofieldtrips, Athena Lim





Hey June…

3 07 2009

The season hasn’t slowed down for us, the end of June brought 5 more Green nests, and 1 more Hawksbill, as well as 115 more hatchlings!

A Hawksbill Hatchling

To celebrate the activity we’ve had this year, and as a big thank you to all our students and guests, we’ve put together this video of the highlights of the past few months! Enjoy!





What a week!

14 06 2009

This week has been the busiest our hatchery has ever experienced! Our very first nest put out 6 more Green hatchlings on the 4th and 5th of June! And during the excavation of the nest we discovered a Siamese turtle that didn’t make it. This specimen had two heads, a distorted body and three hind flippers!

The second nest of the year, that was buried by students from the Australian International School Singapore (Green Group) started hatching on the 3rd of June and by the 6th of June we had released 90 Green hatchlings. We have one blind albino hatchling, fondly nicknamed Casper, who is proving to be a strong soul; a fighter despite it’s genetic in adequacies, although without the aid of camouflage or sense of vision, we don’t expect him to survive in the wild.

Casper

When this nest was excavated we discovered one more hatchling, fighting to emerge from its egg, we kept it over night to see if it could finish the job. With no change after 24 hours – we helped it out the eggs to find that its carapace (shell) hadn’t opened out fully, giving it a little bit of a hunchback appearance. Despite this, it was fighting fit when we released it, bombing down the beach at full speed, and heading straight out to sea!

Green from Nest 40

Just after midnight on the 7th of June, 39 Green hatchlings emerged from our 4th nest of the season. We released them all together at dawn.

During the excavation another nest on the 9th June, a lone green from the above nest surprised us with a stealth like entrance onto the sand. We released it immediately, and concluded that it must be a female, evident from its lack of direction sense. It zigzagged up and down the beach, whilst a group of girls from Raffles Girls School Singapore (RGS) cheered it on! A little bit confused, upon reaching the water, it made several, comical, returns to the beach, before zooming off into the sunset!

Green Hatchling just after emerging

That same night, another Green from the same nest popped up, followed by 75 healthy Hawksbills from the 3rd nest of the year (Also buried by AIS – Thanks guys!)! It was a textbook emergence, with the sand erupting almost non-stop with hatchlings, so fast that our staff had a real workout trying to keep up! At dawn the next day, RGS students woke up early to help release them all, and stand guard against the Ghost Crabs and Red-Eyed Reef Crabs that were eyeing up the little ones!

RGS Releasing Hawksbill Hatchlings at dawn.

Hawksbill Hatchling

Over the next few days, a handful of Hawkbills and Greens from already hatched nests appeared, giving all the students and guests a great chance to see the first steps of these hatchlings. This year we have released 306 hatchlings from 4 nests. We know that these turtles have a tough fight to survive to adulthood – but we hope that by protecting them during the first stage of their lives we chip away at the daunting 1/1000 chance of them reaching reproductive maturity!