Tur­tle time

Travel Digest - - EDITORIAL - Lor­raine Thom­son Pub­lisher / Ed­i­tor

Tur­tles are beau­ti­ful crea­tures that like to take their time to get around and on a re­cent visit to Van­u­atu, where I think most peo­ple were op­er­at­ing on tur­tle time, I was lucky enough to visit a Hawks­bill Tur­tle Con­ser­va­tion Sanc­tu­ary at Tran­quil­ity Is­land Re­sort.

The aptly named Tran­quil­ity is an eco-re­sort and dive cen­tre, as well as a tur­tle sanc­tu­ary, near Port Vila. The re­sort is the op­po­site of lux­ury – it is all about sim­plic­ity and the chance to get back to na­ture. The beach huts are ba­sic and con­structed with wo­ven doors and thatched roofs. With no mains elec­tric­ity, cars or bikes and very lit­tle light pol­lu­tion, this place of­fers what other hol­i­days do not – but in­stead a chance to see, feel and lis­ten to na­ture as na­ture in­tended.

My pick is, over the next decade this will be the new lux­ury! Peo­ple will want to get away from the pres­sures of fast city life.

Added to this eco en­vi­ron­ment is the con­cern for pro­tect­ing the lo­cal tur­tle pop­u­la­tion. The re­sort has 200 ju­ve­nile tur­tles that are be­ing raised from hatch­lings un­til they reach one year old, be­fore be­ing tagged and re­leased into the ocean. To date the eco-re­sort has re­leased 1,200 healthy Hawks­bill tur­tles.

Hawks­bill tur­tles are con­sid­ered crit­i­cally en­dan­gered, mean­ing the species faces a very high risk of to­tal ex­tinc­tion. The first year of their lives is the most per­ilous, many get snatched by hun­gry preda­tors. Hu­mans, how­ever, are the great­est threat. Plas­tic waste chock­ing our oceans; un­sus­tain­able fish­ing meth­ods and pro­pel­ler-dam­age from speed­boats are amongst the key killers.

Not only are they con­sid­ered the most en­dan­gered species of tur­tle, Hawks­bills rank as the fourth most en­dan­gered species on the planet.

What a plea­sure it was to ex­pe­ri­ence first hand this en­dan­gered species and to spon­sor one of the tur­tles. This is an op­por­tu­nity given to all visi­tors to the sanc­tu­ary.

Not only do you get to name the tur­tle you have cho­sen, your name and email is recorded on the tur­tle’s tag. Once re­leased these tur­tles travel across in­ter­na­tional oceans. The tur­tles will be tracked and you will be kept up-to-date with their mi­gra­tions – and these guys travel long haul!

They can be found along the east coast of Africa, along the Per­sian Gulf, the Red Sea and the coasts of In­dia and South­east Asia. In Aus­tralia they are known to nest on Mil­man Is­land in the Great Bar­rier Reef and their Pa­cific range ex­tends from Korea and Ja­pan, down to north­ern New Zealand.

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