The Turtle Island Park which lies 40km north of Sandakan in the Sulu Sea, comprises of thee small islands of which Selingan, is the main island of visit for tourists. The other two islands are more for conservation activities. It is a safe haven for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs almost every night. This gives you a rare opportunity to learn about the conservation activities of the local turtles, witness them coming ashore to lay their eggs, observe the collection of eggs, turtle nesting, tagging of mother turtles and releasing of baby turtles back into the sea.
Selingan Island is the second largest of the three islands with an area of 8 hectares and is also the first turtle hatchery in Malaysia. Many mother turtles return to this island to lay their eggs and you can be certain to witness them every night of the year. The number of visitors who can stay overnight on Selingan Island is restricted to 38 persons per night to protect the turtles. Selingan Turtle Island houses the sabah park’s headquarters, a turtle hatch centre, tourist accommodation with basic facilities and a visitor and interpretative centre. Both Green and Hawksbill Turtles come to shore throughout the year to lay their eggs. However, the peak season for the Greens turtles is between July to October while the peak season for the Hawksbill turtles is between February to April. Turtles lay eggs during the night time and a bright light on or near their nesting beach will deter them from coming ashore entirely. As turtle landings usually occur after dusk, an overnight stay would be the best plan to see the turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs, but shining a light on them or using camera flashes should be avoided as either can be stressful on the creatures. At the same time, visitors could learn and understand more about the conservation process executed by parks employees.
Hatcheries exist to protect the eggs from natural predators such as monitor lizards, birds and snakes. They also protect nests from being dug up by other nesting turtles and from soil erosion. Freshly laid eggs are excavated and transported promptly to the hatchery. The eggs are placed by hand into 75 cm deep pits, covered in sand and surrounded by plastic wire mesh. Each nest has an information plate displaying a nest serial number, date of collection and number of eggs transplanted.
Environmental factors determine the sex of the turtles. The temperature of the sand in which the eggs are incubated plays a critical role. The temperature is influenced by the depth of the nest, the characteristics of the sand, and the weather. Higher sand temperatures result in more females. A difference of only 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit can make the difference between a nest that is wholly female or one that is all male. To ensure certain nests are cooler than others, some areas of the hatcheries are shaded.
After 50-60 days the hatchlings will emerge, mainly at night, which they deduce by the cooler temperatures of the sand. The hatchlings are released at various points on the island immediately after they hatch. If you are travelling to Sandakan and plan to go visiting turtle island, you can book a tour from local tour company you and take a boat ride from sabah park’s jetty. If you are travelling from Kota Kinabalu, you will need to take a domestic flight to Sandakan. Please take note that day trip is not available. Enquire Now
Discover Borneo Turtle Island – Lankayan
Lankayan Island – a jewel-like tiny island in the Sulu Sea, has been declared part of an immense Marine Protected Area to adopt the eco-tourism concept. Unpopulated and covered by thick tropical island vegetation on its topside, this peaceful, untouched little bit of paradise is ringed by an endless pure white sandy beach, offering simply elegant and exquisite accommodation in all 23 wooden, roomy and perfectly appointed seafront chalets. Enquire Now