When I look back at the absolute best days of my life, they were all spent outdoors in nature – and half of them happen to involve the amazing creatures that are sea turtles. I could go on for ages about these guys.
Did you know that only ONE in 1,000-10,000 survive to adulthood? (I imagine it’s hard to track them, hence the wide range). And that sea turtle moms crawl onto the beach to lay eggs, bury them and then leave them there to hatch on their own, which involves digging up through the sand, scrambling to the ocean while trying to avoid 39,319 different predators (birds and shellfish alike) and then literally swimming thousands of miles around the world for 7 – 10 years until they reach adulthood (they call this time the “lost years”). And THEN after they mate, they go back to the SAME beach they had hatched on to lay their own eggs! Because obviously every sea turtle was born with a super legit GPS system. How could you not be obsessed with these little dudes?
So of course when I heard there was a sea turtle conservation center in Bali, I absolutely HAD to go.
About the Bali Sea Turtle Society
Sea turtle nesting season in Kuta, Bali starts in March (so book your flights now, people!) and ends in autumn. BSTS volunteers search the beaches on and near Kuta for nests and then transport the eggs into a protected area. Because of the increase of tourists and buildings on beaches, the eggs are in a vulnerable position. Sand gets packed down, making it difficult for the hatchlings to climb to the surface or even worse, it can crush the eggs beneath the sand. Sea turtles are also endangered mostly because of humans and pollution, and so protecting eggs from predators will help increase their survival rate.
The Sea Turtle Release
Eggs get moved into a large sea turtle hatchery, pictured above. This is also the meeting point for people that want to help release the hatchlings into the ocean. When nests are reburied, a flag is placed above them, indicating the predicted hatching date. Once they hatch, they’re placed in large buckets of sea water and then released into the ocean that day or the next.
Anybody can come help with the release (although children have priority). Each person gets one baby turtle in a container (you’re not supposed to actually touch them) and then everybody lines up on the beach to release them at the same time. Seriously one of the most magical moments of my life. They’re so tiny and perfect and wave their little flippers so fiercely. Everybody cheered them on as they instinctively headed towards the ocean and its 7 foot waves to begin their journey across the world.
Check out the Bali Sea Turtle Society Facebook page for updates – they will post each day they will be releasing sea turtles (which is almost every day in July) and designate a time to meet. They’re located on Kuta beach next to the Grand Inna Kuta near Hard Rock.
We chatted with the BTST staff and they told us that they could always use volunteers at night when they’re on the lookout for mama turtles laying eggs (especially during peak nesting season). People disperse in groups to cover as much ground as possible to ensure that all eggs are found and transported to the protected hatchery. So we headed to the BSTS that same evening and waited.
It wasn’t until around 1 or 2am that we got a call of a sea turtle spotting that was close enough for our group to go to. We hopped on the back of a motorbike in our swimsuits and flip flops and cruised to the next beach over to find our mama sea turtle crawling up the beach. We waited for about an hour while she dug a hole, laid around 100 ping-pong-ball-sized eggs and then buried them, packing down the sand with her flippers.
Definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, being able to watch a sea turtle lay eggs in the middle of the night and then disappear back into the ocean. And crazy to think that the surviving turtles from this nest will be coming back to this same beach in around 20 years to lay their own eggs!
Who: Animal Lovers♥ – Anybody can participate for FREE, but children have priority. The number of released turtles will vary, day by day, so be sure to get there early.
What: Bali Sea Turtle Release
When: March – October-ish. Again, this will vary too of course. Releases are more frequent during summer months when they happen almost daily around 430pm! (Check their FB page for updates – they can’t predict when the eggs will hatch but they will usually post in the morning or early afternoon if there will be a release that day!)
Where: Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia – their building is next to the Grand Inna Kuta, which is near the Hard Rock Hotel (map above).
Why: To help sea turtles from becoming even more endangered. Moving their nests and releasing them once they hatch will help increase their survival rate.
These little guys got so excited as we started walking to the ocean!They all knew to head for the water where they'll start a 7-10 year journey swimming thousands and thousands of miles around the ocean. Once they reach maturity, they'll start mating and the females will return to this same beach to lay her eggs.