In Remote Indonesia, Visit to Green Sea Turtle Hatchery Saves "Max"

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This is Max, at about 12 hours old, windmilling his flippers in the air. He (or perhaps she) is one of 100 baby green sea turtles I helped release into the sea.

While the adult Chelonia mydas has only a few known predators -- sharks, leopards (in Africa), and man -- a baby sea turtle's early life is one of grave danger. The statistics are abominable: An average of one or two hatchlings from 1,000 eggs will reach the 30-50 year reproduction age.

Pangumbahan Turtle Park, a green sea turtle hatchery in Ujung Genteng, Indonesia aims to reduce these high death statistics for the endangered species, and to give hatchlings a fighting chance.

Surfing and Turtles

As part of my four month surf- and eco-tourism trip in Asia, I combined the hatchery with a visit to the aptly named off-the-beaten-track surf spot "Turtles."

Every few years, a local told me, surfers paddle over a turtle the size of a car.

Although it was difficult to get to, for just $1, I saw a majestic algae-covered female lay her eggs and introduced Max (who I named on the spot) to the great wide ocean.

Photo: Mairi Beautyman

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