What turned out to be a weekend getaway to celebrate my brother's birthday turned out to be a stressful experience with turtles.
You see ... Glory Beach Resort boasts of having a turtle sanctuary and conducting turtle conservation activities.
The resort claims to have release close to 8,000 hatchlings into the sea since conservation initiatives began at the resort around 8 years ago.
Here are some photos of Glory Beach Resort's communication on its turtle conservation activities:
Main display in the lobby informing guests about the feeding time at 11.00am daily and the 8.00pm evening talk held every Saturday and on public holidays.
Buletin board with turtle news.
Glory Beach Resort has a nice beach where turtles come to lay their eggs. When the eggs are hatched, the resort keep the hatchlings in the Turtle Hut until the little critters are older before letting them go into the ocean.
Hatchlings in the Turtle Hut.
This is the water tank which houses 5 adult turtles:
Saltwater from the ocean is pumped into the water tank. The resort said they'll release few of the turtles into the ocean soon because they're now older and able to fend for themselves. Moreover the tank is not big enough for 5 adult turtles.
Since wildlife always amazes me, I took the opportunity to attend the 8.00pm talk that Saturday evening.
I must say that the speakers did a relatively good job in creating awareness amongst the guests on turtle conservation. Here are few points from the talk:
a) There were initially 30 different species of sea turtles on planet earth. However there are only 7 species left.
b) Out of the 7 species, 4 species come to Malaysian beaches to lay their eggs. The 4 species are green, hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley.
c) We must not throw rubbish (especially plastic bags) around because it'll end up in the ocean and cause death to turtles that consume the plastic bag.
The speakers also had a box where guests can put in their contribution which will go towards turtle conservation efforts at the resort. The speaker told us that the resort buys turtle eggs (RM2.50 each) from the market so that they can hatch them to be released into the ocean. Donors who contributed minimum RM10 received a key chain each.
After the talk, the speakers said they were going to show hatchlings and turtles for educational purposes.
What happened next, I didn't expect at all:
I thought they were going to just show hatchlings to the guests. To my horror, they distributed 5 hatchlings for guests to touch and hold.
I'm no turtle expert, but I do know that turtles (especially its hatchlings) are delicate and need special attention. They are certainly not to be handed around to be touched and manhandled.
When I asked the lady speaker whether it's ok for the hatchlings to be treated like that, she said it's ok for educational purposes.
Next they brought out one of the turtles from the water tank:
Can you see all the hands touching the poor animal? After the spectacle, they washed the turtle with fresh water before placing it back into the saltwater tank.
Due to popular demand there was another talk on Sunday morning before the 11.00am feeding time. Again they brought out one of the turtles for show and tell:
Must be damn cool to and ego boosting to take photos with wildlife, post it on social media and receive many Likes.
Feeding time. Would have been bitter sweet justice for the turtles if someone got bitten.
If this turtle could talk, he would have said, "Fu*k off you dumb humans and leave me alone!".
Seeing all these makes me wonder whether Glory Beach Resort's turtle conservation efforts are monitored by the authorities. The speakers claim that they are working in collaboration with the authorities and WWF.
When I checked, they only had a Certificate of Appreciation from the Fisheries Department of Malaysia displayed in the lobby:
Doesn't mean anything.
Don't get me wrong here.
I commend any turtle conservation efforts including that of Glory Beach Resort. After all, everyone of us has a role to play in giving these beautiful creatures a chance to survive in this harsh and dangerous world.
However I disagree with the way these turtles are treated at the resort.
If the resort wishes to show and tell, they could just show the hatchlings to the guests, not hand them around to be exposed to so many dangers. What if one of the guests (especially children) accidentally drop the hatchling and stepped on it? Accidents do happen, you know.
As for the adult turtles in the water tank, the resort could just let the guests into the tank area to look at the turtles but don't allow any touching. Placing the animal on the table for everyone to see and touch will cause distress to the poor animal.
Now that you've read my story and seen the photos, what do you think about the whole incident?
Note: You may read more about sea turtles at the WWF website here.