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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Turtle Release

Today, I checked an item off my bucket list!

I adopted a turtle hatchling and released it into the sea!

My son Josh and I went on a turtle release excursion at the Rimbun Dahan Hatchery, Pahang.

Pak Su (Uncle Su in Malay) and a couple of  marine biology students run the place.

The hatchery
Eggs from the mama turtles' nests are reburied in artificial nests like these. Each 'nest' is marked with the date, number of eggs, and anticipated hatching date. Chicken wire is used to protect the eggs from poachers and predators.

The incubation period of a Green Turtle lasts 45 - 60 days.

Lending nature a helping hand
Tree roots and soil compaction (caused by rain on sand that's too fine) hamper the hatchlings from digging themselves out.
Green Turtle hatchlings
These little guys  can live up to 100 years! But sadly,  only 1 in 1,000  will survive to adulthood. 
The sex of a Green Turtle is determined after fertilization. The incubation temperature of the developing eggs defines the sex of the offsprings. This is called temperature-dependent sex determination, or TSD.

As Ben Guarino of The Washington Post reports, at roughly 85 degrees Fahrenheit, turtle nests produce equal amounts of males and females. A tad cooler and the clutch leans male. A little warmer and embryos develop as females.

You can't tell the sex of a hatchling. Until the turtle is fully grown, it's hard to sex a turtle.

I named my baby Penyu (turtle in Malay) and prayed on it before releasing it.


Although a short distance to the sea,  it is a long, perilous journey for the vulnerable hatchlings and they have to get into the water as soon as possible. This is a very important step. As they navigate towards the sea, they imprint where their natal beach is and will return back to the very same beach as their mamas did before them to lay their eggs. This is the reason why you just can't pick them up and plonk them into the water. Crawling towards the sea is part of the imprinting process.
We were told that a tagged hatchling traveled as far as Japan and returned  15 years later to the same beach to nest! What brilliant navigators!
Crabs and birds see these little fellas heading towards the sea as easy meals.
Almost there, little buddy!

Yayyy!  Penyu made it! Suddenly, an eagle swooped down and snatched one of the hatchlings that was already far out in the water. I saw the little guy's itty bitty flippers dangling from the bird's talons as it soared back into the sky. Poor baby! Nature is cruel. Such is the circle of life.

Josh's hatchling appeared to have a deformed flipper. We watched sadly as the little fella staggered slowly towards the sea, far behind the others. With a survival rate of less than 1%, sending a handicapped hatchling to the open sea is like giving it a death sentence. Mother Nature is a bitch.

Goodbye, little one!

Being a part of Penyu's journey from the moment it struggled out of the nest and ensuring that it made its way safely to the water was, unquestionably, one of the most profound and emotional experiences of my life.

It breaks my heart to learn that the battle for survival has only just begun. Many will drown in the pounding waves. Hungry fish are ready to strike. And a myriad of other threats await them in the ocean. 

The emotional send-off
With hearts full of hopes, we watched our babies disappear from the shoreline and into the sea 
When I lie awake at night, I think of Penyu. I pray that God watches over my little buddy. If it's female, I hope she will be back on this very beach where I was standing to lay her eggs.
A juvenile Green Turtle

Remember Crush from Finding Nemo?  He is a Green Turtle.



29 comments:

Aditya Narayan Mohanty said...

Lovely capture . And I really feel happy to know that you adopted turtle .

Sandee said...

What a wonderful thing to do. You're a very nice person.

Have a fabulous day. ♥

Aditya Narayan Mohanty said...

Hi . Can you please comment one more time on my post sweet sleep because for some technical issues I deleted that and reuploaded that post .

Alex said...

Oh my you are so lucky, how wonderful to participate in helping these little creatures have a small fighting chance! I have always wanted to do this too, and have it on my bucket list. Love the photos ... such beautiful little animals that grow so big. :D

Lin said...

I wish Penya a good, LONG life!

How wonderful that you got to send him/her out into the sea. Sad, I know....especially as a mom...knowing that we cannot protect them.

Remember Squirt? Our turtle from last year?? It was very hard to let her go out in the wild, but I knew that she deserved to live a life in a real pond, with real food and real sunshine on her back. Did she make it?? I don't know. But if she lived a joyous life for a week...a month...or a year....I am happy knowing that she lived like a real turtle and not cramped into a tiny tank in the house.

betty said...

Such a sweet name! Wishing Penya success in his/her journey and that she/he defy the odds and makes it to 100 years old! What an adventure for you and Josh to participate in!

betty

Mary (cactus catz) said...

Thanks for sharing Penyu's hatching and imprinting journey. Very cool. I hope Penyu makes it and you see her again in fifteen years or so.

Karen Dennis said...

I have seen this on the television, but it must be breathtaking to witness such an amazing event in person #globalblogging@_karenennis

Hena Tayeb said...

Oh that is so sweet. Great photo's. I love turtles.

http://www.henatayeb.blogspot.com

stevebethere said...

What a nice thing to do that was interesting I enjoyed that and the photos :-)

Have a turtletastic week :-)

Mother of 3 said...

Oh Wow! My boys and I have studied sea turtle so much and while I do find their odds heartbreaking this must have been so wonderful to participate in! So jealous and I too will be praying for your little turtle.

Christina Morley said...

This is so cool and the turtles are so cute! Great job capturing these shots!
Tina from Amanda's Books and More

Jacqui said...

This looks like such an amazing experience!! Wow! #globalblogging

Jeanne Foguth said...

Great post! Love turtles.

Ruby's Rescued Life said...

What an amazing journey to have been part of. I'm so glad that Baby Penyu made it to the water. Wishing him safe travels and that he will return again. Thank you for helping him with his journey and sharing your story.

Kim Carberry said...

Oh wow! What an amazing thing to do...These little turtles need so much help. #bloggersbest

alissa apel said...

What an amazing experience! I bet it was fun cheering the turtle on, as it moved towards the water!

Yes of course I'll give Emerson a hug for you. I'll see him next weekend.

Oldhouseintheshires said...

Love turtles....would love to do this. Went to Florida once so saw the nests. #bloggersbest

carol l mckenna said...

Oh what an experience to participate in and sweet photos of the little sea turtles!

Happy Day to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Lydia C. Lee said...

Just gorgeous - great shots of the turtle looking out to sea.

Vanity And Me said...

Such a lovely experience to go through. I can nearly feel the emotion coming from everyone on the beach! I would love to do something like this xx

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

That is cool. I hope he makes it.

molly said...

They are such amazing creatures

Molly

mummyhereandthere said...

Aww what a lovely idea to something meaningful X #bloggerclubUK

Handmade in Israel said...

What a lovely thing to do! I hope that Penyu thrives.
#SundayFeatures

K. Elizabeth @ YUMMommy said...

It's so sad that only 1 out of every 1,000 sea turtles makes to adulthood. I had no clue that odds were so low. I'm definitely praying the Penyu and the rest of the hatchlings defy this statistic and that the majority of them make it.

Rhonda Gales said...

What an amazing adventure. I had no idea the survival rate was so low with the turtles. I hope and pray that Penyu and your son's turtles survive. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience on Sunday's Best.

Mellie said...

Veronica, that is SO cool!! What an amazing experience.

indah nuria Savitri said...

Super cute! I love Penyu as well mba...and hope they can survive the harsh nature into adulthood