Turtle Nest Hatches on Beach Close to Siladen Resort & Spa
The island of Siladen, one of the five islands of Bunaken National Park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, and home to the premier eco-resort of Siladen Resort & Spa, has welcomed the arrival of more than 100 baby turtles which hatched on the night of the 23 April.
Bunaken National Park is home to five of the seven known species of turtle. Most commonly sighted are green turtles, which make up around 90 per cent of the local turtle population, with hawksbill turtles frequently encountered munching on the coral. Also present in the area, but much less regularly sighted, are loggerhead and olive ridley turtles, and larger pelagic leatherbacks are occasionally spotted in deeper waters.
Of the seven described species of turtle, six (including Kemp's ridley turtles, which are found mostly in the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico) are listed on the IUCN Red List as threatened with extinction. The seventh species – the flatback turtle – is so rarely sighted that it is listed as 'data deficient'. In Bunaken Marine park, however, the turtle population is thriving, and it is not uncommon to see more than 15 green or hawksbill turtles during a single dive at sites such as the famous Lekuan wall.
Elegant and graceful underwater, turtles are cumbersome and clumsy on land. Once they have hatched, male turtles will never set foot (or fin) on land again for the rest of their lives, but females will come ashore to build a nest and lay eggs. In the case of green turtles, females do not reach sexual maturity until they are over 20 years of age – sometimes much later – and will mate every two to four years, returning to exactly the same beach on which they themselves were born to lay their eggs, often crossing thousands of miles of ocean to do so.
The egg-laying takes place at night to protect both the turtle and the delicate eggs from the heat of day. After finding a suitable spot, the female will dig a hole up to 60cm deep with her hind flippers and lay as many as 200 eggs before crawling, exhausted, back to the sea. Green turtle females will mate up to five times during a season, returning to the beach every two weeks to repeat this process.
Once the babies hatch, between 50-70 days later, the real battle begins. They are vulnerable to predators from the moment they begin their instinctive crawl towards the ocean. Their shells are soft, they are weak swimmers and they will need to learn to source their own food while avoiding predation from many of the reef's inhabitants. Only around two out of every thousand hatchlings will survive to reach sexual maturity.
Fully grown, green turtles have few natural predators, with only large sharks and orcas being able to penetrate their solid shells, but all species of turtle are greatly threatened by human activity. Discarded plastic bags floating in the water can look like jellyfish – a popular source of food for several turtle species – and turtles are easily trapped by abandoned, lost or discarded fishing equipment, causing them to drown as they are unable to surface to breathe. Industrial pollution washed into the oceans the animals weaker and more susceptible to disease.
For more information about turtles and how you can help to save them from the threat of extinction, visit www.turtle-foundation.org. For more from Siladen Resort & Spa visit www.siladen.com, and check out this fantastic little video from the team at Siladen, helping the turtles safely complete their first journey towards the ocean.