Tender turtle love
Different way to experience the beauty terengganu is to beaches on dark to look out for
ing made me take a flight after from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, and then to wake up at a flight to Redang island in to volunteer to save turtles? was guilt. vaguely that years ago our driven to Terengganu and had purchased turtle eggs. boiled three eggs and disthey could not harden. The swallowed those eggs with and pepper and then my son one egg in our garden hophatchlings would emerge. this legacy of guilt, my
law Daphne and I had enthusiastically volunteered to save Chagar Hutang, a remote part island. The Seatru (Sea Turtle volunteer programme was 1998 to assist long term conservation. It was introduced of Universiti Malaysia where we met up with coordinators while carrying our
and sleeping bags.
first, relax later
volunteers! Remember saving one of the wonders of reminded Dr Juanita Joseph, charge of the programme. enjoy snorkelling and hikhave to work first. There is
After working, then you explained Vickie Chew, the officer.
are required to assist in housekeeping and beach cleanwere eight volunteers and was to carry huge bags of canned food plus buckets to the boat. After reaching Hutang, we had to jump into
and carry all the bags to the
carry the three smallest bags?“sheepishly as I struggled
huge rucksack, slippers, hat and sling bag.
I appeared to be the only middleaged mother around – the other seven volunteers comprised youthful, muscular men and energetic younger ladies. Thankfully, we formed a human chain and hands passed all the bags to our home for the next week. Daphne sighed, “Look at the huts and floor! It’s messy. And there is no electricity, our phones won’t work ... no Internet for days!”
Thankfully, after lunch and a briefing by Chew, we settled down to relax.
“Look! There is a mouse deer in the compound!” someone shouted excitedly.
There were two mouse deers foraging for food nearby. Huge monitor lizards also roamed near the rubbish heap, while macaque monkeys darted in and out of the trees, grab
bing pieces of food from the dustbin. Squirrels were running around the kitchen roof and one brave one tried to bite through some plastic boxes to eat the biscuits inside.
When we studied the duty roster, I realised, to my disappointment, that Daphne and I had to be on duty from midnight to 3am that very night, to wait for turtles to lay eggs. We were told that we could rest on the beach on mats, but every hour we also had to patrol along the dark beach with a moonless sky, to look out for turtles.
After dinner we sat on the beach and were comforted by the sight of sparkling stars against a brilliant dark sky. Both of us were sleepy and exhausted, but we had to do our patrols. I had thought that seeing turtles was difficult but at 8.30pm I saw a large dark shape crawling onto the soft white sand.
“Oh! It’s a mother turtle going to lay eggs!” I whispered excitedly to Daphne.
Then we caught sight of two more huge turtles further down. There were 11 of us on duty and we had divided
Grace and beauty: a green turtle swimming freely off the coast of redang island. — Photo courtesy of Seatru