Turtle and human populations do not, as a general rule, mix well. The sands of Bali's busy Kuta Beach have been a centuries-old nesting ground for turtles that swam to shore, deposited their eggs in the sand and swam back out to sea, followed some time thereafter by their newly incubated progeny. In more recent times, the burgeoning populations of local Balinese and international tourists have made the sands non-viable for turtle nesting, eliminating a key link in the life cycle of these amphibian reptiles who can live for more than a hundred years.
Any loss of habitat to an endangered species is always a matter of concern. Worldwide, six of seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. These magnificent creatures also face other dangers as they travel the seas due to accidental capture, poaching and the loss of nesting sites due to coastal development and beach pollution.
Giving Bali's Turtles a Second Chance
From 2002 to 2009, a few dedicated individuals in Bali, led by Agung Ngurah Tresna of Kuta Beach Community Security Force and I Wayan Wiradnyana from ProFauna Indonesia, have been diligently relocating turtle eggs to a simple hatchery facility, comprised of a small concrete and sand bunker. As eggs hatched at the end of a two-month incubation period, the two men and other volunteers saw that the baby turtles were returned to the ocean the same day.
Recognizing that such valiant efforts deserved wider support, Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia (CCAI) extended a helping hand. Teaming up with Quiksilver, a long-standing partner in efforts to clean Bali's beaches, a permanent hatchery facility - the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation (KBSTC) - was built.
Constructed in the shape of a giant turtle, the new hatchery also features information boards helping to bring awareness of the sea turtles history and their threatened future.
"In 2008, 1,947 sea turtle eggs have been hatched and the numbers doubled to be 4,054 in 2009. Up until May 2010 we have recorded more than 5000 eggs successfully laid in the KBSTC. This is a fantastic initial result," said Peter Kelly, President Director of CCAI. "In addition to the Bali Beach Clean-Up program and the KBSTC, we also rolled out Water for life program to provide clean water access to severe drought areas in Northern Bali. All these initiatives go hand-in-hand with the objective of the Bali Government to make the resort island an eco-responsible tourist destination," Peter added.
Paul Hutson, CEO Southeast Asia of Quiksilver, a partner in the project, sounded a similar vein: "Since mid 2008, CCAI and Quiksilver Indonesia have been active in cleaning major beaches in Bali. We are positive that cleaning beaches is part of encouraging sea turtles to return and nest at Kuta Beach."
The KBSTC is targeting to release over 12 thousand baby sea turtles by end of 2010.
Located on Bali's Kuta Beach near the Inna Kuta Beach Hotel, KBSTC is certain to become a spot of local interest and education for tourists and local residents alike. Open to the public at no charge, KBSTC hopes to share with the public the miracle of returning rare turtles to the oceans surrounding Bali.
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