Turtle Island: Sea Turtles, Babies, and Snack Time

When we were researching things to do in Bali, I found a place on Turtle Island where you can hold the sea turtles and take pictures with them. I was so excited to hold a turtle!! But when we pulled up to the place that the GPS sent us, we were at a Turtle Conservation and Education Center, and we seemed to be the only people there. I was a little skeptical, but open to the experience! We entered the center, which was still outside, and saw a giant pool with filthy water and probably 10 large sea turtles. I was a little mortified and worried about their health, but the guide told us they were getting ready to do a water change today. I was then concerned that these turtles would live out the rest of their lives in this small pool, never to swim freely again, but the guide explained to us that at this center, their main goal was rehabilitation and release. All of the turtles in the pool were sick or injured in some way, and had been taken in to heal/recover, and would be released into the ocean when they recovered. I felt so relieved! The turtles were amazing and beautiful. They all had different markings on their shells and obvious personalities. It was great. Next up was seeing the babies!

We walked over to a different pavilion and saw rows and rows of smaller tanks. I felt like a little kid, and ran over to the little tanks and put my face really close to the water. The babies were so cute!! There were little tiny babies and then a tank full of teenagers. I was in heaven. I wanted to hold one, and Sam told the guide that we were originally trying to get to the place where you can take pictures with them, and he told us that turtles like this were protected and it was really unsafe for them to be picked up and held. This mostly applied to the larger turtles, but because the new babies were going to be released into the wild, they didn’t let people hold them. I was disappointed, but glad that we didn’t go to the other place, because I would never want to do something that would not be safe for a turtle. I was totally content just learning about them and watching them swim around.

We moved on to some more turtles, and saw big turtles in the smaller pools, alone. These were sick and injured turtles that needed special care and attention. There was one that they think was stuck in a boat propellor, and the bottom of his shell was jagged and torn, some chunks missing, and he was completely missing his right front leg. It was very sad to see, but the guide was optimistic that he would be able to be released some day. Another turtle we saw had a skin condition and had maggots crawling on him, but was also being treated. We even saw a beautiful albino turtle, but it seemed to be having a rough day and was flopping around a lot in the water so I didn’t get a very good picture. Turtles have always been so magnificent to me, and I in some ways, feel really connected to them. I felt a deep sense of respect and admiration and love for these creatures.  Next up was feeding some turtles! I didnt get to hold any, but feeding them was so fun. There was a variety of breeds in the pool that we could feed, but some of them I recognized as red-eared sliders, which was the kind of turtle that I had when I was little. The guide gave Vriz and I some greens to feed them, and we went to town! The turtles were so excited and climbing all over each other to get the food. They would bite down on the stem of the green with such excitement, you could hear a pretty loud crunch. It was adorable. I walked around and tried to give everyone a bite, especially the little guys that were getting trampled. It was great!!

This was the end of the little tour, so I went to look at souvenirs. They had quite a few turtle things, but I chose a turtle carving that has a removable shell that is made from a coconut, and a little wooden keychain! Afterward, we saw a sign that said ‘adopt a turtle’ where you can pay for a little baby, ‘adopt’ it, and then take it out and set it free into the ocean. Unfortunately, none of the babies were ready to be freed yet, so I guess I’ll be making another trip here, someday. We headed out, and saw the first big pool being drained and prepped for cleaning. Yay!! You never really know with places like this, so I was relieved to see the dirty tank being cleaned. And that was it! The end of Turtle Island. It was definitely a highlight of the Bali trip, and my trip as a whole!!

 

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