We had planned to go to Sanur for a day at the beach, but as it was overcast we decided to go a little further south to Serangan Island were there was a Turtle Conservation and Education Centre.
As we arrived a volunteer came to meet us and take us to the holding tanks containing turtles of various types and ages. Some were one month old babies, others a little older, and some were rescued injured turtles from the sea. The kids were in heaven.
The volunteer offered the kids a hold of the tiny turtles. The baby turtles were adorable, they were all black in colour, developing their colouring later in life, their shells were soft and presumably still growing like baby bones.
They were surprisingly immobile in the water, and didn’t move much even when they were picked up. They were so placid and great fun for the kids to hold. What an experience!
Then they unexpectedly let us hold a bigger one. This one was a lot more , shall we say ‘flappy’ and we were worried Olive was going to drop it. She did very well, and held on tight.
Clare even had a go holding one
We were then taken to a larger tank (in the shape of a turtle!) which had some older and larger turtles. The kids got to feed some fish to these ones, which you can see in this video. Rob was worried that someone was going to fall in!
There was also a sand pit with many mounds, under which were caches of eggs waiting to hatch. We saw them fill one hole with eggs they had collected that morning from a beach elsewhere. Mothers usually lay around 130 eggs about 3 times a year. As we found out survival rate is very low in the wild, however it is a much higher doing it this way, protecting the eggs from predators. Once the eggs hatch and the baby grows a little they release the turtles back into the ocean.
The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre work with the WWF so it’s a legitimate conservation centre and not there for the tourist dollar. The people appeared to genuinely care about the turtles, and are doing an amazing job. The conservation park relies completely on donations, though we never felt any pressure to give money. We did not mind paying a few dollars for a very enjoyable hour or so. We also bought something from their souvenir shop to also help support the cause.
When we were there, there were not many visitors. A large school group turned up just as we were leaving, great timing for us. We hope they get more visitors to support the great job they are doing.
We highly recommend a visit, but make sure you get to the right place, as there is a rival turtle island that is apparently an expensive tourist trap.
How to get there:
There is more than one turtle island in Bali, and if you read reviews online, it is not clear which one is being referred to – and some of the reviews are not very glowing (avoid Tanjung Benoa on the north side of Nusa Dua).
The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre is located on Jalan Tukad Punggawa, Serangan Island (Pulau Serangan). It is best to go by car, there is a road bridge to the island. As you drive onto the island you pass a place called the Turtle Park, where we nearly stopped, but the cynic in me told me it did not seem right, so we continued and eventually came across the right place.