In most parts of the world, turtles are either considered endangered, or critically endangered, however in Bunaken Marine Park, constant protection of both turtles and their nesting grounds has resulted in their population increasing over recent years.
The marine park is home to 5 of the 7 species of turtle. The most common is the green turtle, which makes up around 90% of our turtle population. The other species we see many of is the hawksbill, which can be spotted munching on the reef. Loggerheads and Olive Ridleys are around, but an uncommon sight, and the much larger and pelagic leatherbacks are occasionally spotted in deeper waters.
Although turtles are not frequently spotted on the reefs surrounding Siladen (instead opting for Bunaken), they do use the islands white sandy beaches to lay their eggs. Over the years we have had many turtle nests appearing on Siladen, but right now, turtle activity seems to be at an all-time high.
Last night, one of our 3 current nests hatched. From 150 eggs, less than 10 didn’t hatch, which means we can welcome over 140 new turtles to the world! These hatchings were green turtles; recognisable by the number of scutes (plates) on their shells.
The hatching process takes place over a couple of days. The first sign is a small sinkhole appearing, where the sand begins to collapse as the eggs hatch and the hatchlings begin digging. The next stage can take a few hours, as they begin pushing up for the air. Depth of the nest and sand density can affect how long this takes. Finally after the first couple have broken the surface, the remaining nest will begin spilling on to the beach in a dramatic fashion before they head for the ocean.
Although this nest has been and gone, you still have a chance to witness this amazing event first hand as we still have 2 nests remaining.
The first one contains 148 eggs, and it is due to hatch between the 7th-10th of December.
The second is slightly larger, containing 165 eggs, and should hatch between the 6-9th of January.