Serangan is the closest island to Bali — you can reach it by road, not by boat 🙂 This is why, I assume, we were trying to get there for 2 months! Actually, it only takes 15 minutes from Kuta 🙂
Serangan — Island of sea turtles
There is one attraction — it’s Turtle Conservarion and Education Center, TCEC. Founded by Government and with support of WWF, this center supports turtles in the seas around Bali, by both helping to grow the population and education of local people and tourists.
I was always touched by the innocence and vulnerability of these animals in front of human’s threat. They are eaten (not only for food — for some ceremonies as well), their eggs are eaten, the beaches where they nest are overcrowded, and finally they are used for souvenirs. Souvenirs! Guys in the Center even show us the Chinese souvenirs of a newborn turtle hermetically packed into a keychain. That’s horrifies.
So the more glad we were to see the turtles paradise: TCEC mainly care about three species of sea turtles: Olive Ridley, Sea Green, and Hawksbill.
The Olive Ridley turtles are most populated in this area, and mainly them are growing up in the pools of the center.
These babies are all under 1 month — they hatched here, in the nesting of TCEC from the eggs brought by fishermen (for money) or bought on the local black markets (also for money). This is why the center is always short-cutted 🙂
The digging out of newborn turtles usually happens late afternoon. The nests are kept by the constant temperature for 15 days, and then opened.
In our first visit we were lucky to participate in one hatching — this is incredible and terrific at one time! We were afraid to make any irritation movement — so fragile are these newborn turtles! And the sand falling on the turtle hatchlings was just a scariest thing on earth! More, you can’t see how many turtles are under the one you try to pick up — you try to guess by fingers in a glove if there is anyone, someone you could hurt… Oh my gosh.
Make a sleepy baby free 🙂
But feeling this new life on your hand is incredible! He sleeps for some more minutes, then wakes up and starts to run! We collected around 30 turtles in a basket and carry them in a sand box — in an hour they will start their first swim in a pool!
And in one month they will get freedom in the sea, by the help of the staff, or by a tourist donated 150 000 rupees (12 USD) for one turtle. The turtle will return in 30 years to the same beach to bring another generation to life!
And the tourist will get a certificate 🙂 The donations, then, will help the staff to buy more eggs from the locals.
There are also the adult turtles in hard conditions, until they will be ready to carry on in the sea (if they will be ready one day). This hawksbill met the motor boat: it lost a paw and a part of shell.
This one ate a piece of plastic, but now gets better and fatter, and soon will return to the nature.
This guy is healthy and full of energy — eager to try my camera!
And these pond sliders have a very strange story to appear here: they are all the former pets, brought by those who didn’t suppose they will grow so big in 10 years!
The center impressed us so much we decided to go on as volunteers. The volunteers have just two jobs: daily care of turtles, and making tours for visitors.
The first shift for volunteers is 8.30-12.00, so the next morning, 9.00 am, we were cleaning a pool 🙂 We also learned everything about the Center and I even made a tour! The second shift is from 12.00 to 16.00, promising more tourists — and more hatchlings! Although the tourists, unfortunately, are not so many as this wonderful place deserves.
A volunteer can make a turtle free with a discount, but the pleasure to see these wonderful and so gracious animals is the best benefit!
The best way to reach TCEC for us is to move along the beach line right after the bridge, and turn along the river. TCEC is open daily from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, and there is no admission fee.