During our visit to Bali we were lucky to participate in an activity to release baby sea turtles into the ocean. If you are an animal lover like us, you wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity while you’re on the island.
How Do You Participate?
We volunteered at the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre to participate in the release. Among other things, the centre works to protect turtle eggs and hatches them in a safe environment. Once the eggs hatch, volunteers at the centre release the turtles back into the ocean.
Why do the turtle eggs need protection?
During the turtle nesting season, female turtles come to shore to lay their eggs, and bury them under the sand. When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles crawl out of their nests, and instinctively swim towards the ocean.
Unfortunately, some eggs are not lucky enough to survive because they get dug up, and eaten by predators. To prevent this, many organisations rescue the eggs and incubate them in a safe enclosure. Some of these organisations (like the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre) allow volunteers to witness, and even assist in the release process.
Is releasing baby turtles a violation of animal rights?
While there are many organisations in Bali that capture turtles and breed them in captivity for profit, there are organisations such as Turtle Conservation and Education Centre that act primarily in the interest of the turtles. They only incubate rescued eggs, and do not capture or breed sea turtles for their own profit.
About the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre
As the name suggests, the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre works to rescue and rehabilitate sick turtles. It educates local communities who help the centre in its mission to rescue and nurse turtles in need. The centre also works with local fishermen to rescue turtle eggs in return for compensation. The eggs are then buried in a hatchery in the centre till they are ready to hatch.
During our visit we saw the amazing work being done by the centre. Numerous turtles being nursed back to health; many with cracked shells, or missing flippers. It was heartbreaking to witness, but satisfying to know that the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre was taking care of them.
Getting To The Centre
As turtles are released in the mornings, we recommend staying at Sanur. Traffic in Bali can be notorious, and you don’t want to miss this opportunity because you’re stuck in traffic.
We stayed at the Prama Sanur Hotel, and it took us 20 minutes to reach by taxi in the morning.
Bali Sea Turtle Release Dates
While turtles lay eggs all year round, the chances of participating in a release are higher between June and October. The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre told us that between the months of July and August, they have eggs that hatch daily!
Let me start by saying that we were extremely lucky! We visited Bali in April, when the frequency of the eggs hatching is low. When we arrived at the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre, we were told that there “could be” a chance of us participating in a turtle release. But there was no guarantee.
We saw the turtle nests with placards with estimated hatch dates, and knew that there was a slim possibility in the next couple of days. Lucky for us, one of the members at the centre offered to message us if and when the eggs hatched.
Two days later, our friend at the centre messaged us that the turtles had hatched! And that we could come and help them release the baby turtles into the sea. Lucky that we were staying in Sanur, and could make it to the centre in such short notice.
When we arrived, we saw the hatchlings swimming in a tiny pool. There are many volunteers, all tourists like us, who had come to participate in the release. We were all asked to adopt our baby turtle/turtles, and were given a bucket in which to transport them to the beach.
Once ready, we got into the centre’s van that drove us to a beautiful, secluded beach. Usually, volunteers are taken to the same beach from where the turtle eggs came.
The beach was a 20 minute drive from the centre. At the beach, we all walked towards the sea and one-by-one released our adopted turtles back to where they belong. It was such a joy to see them scurry away towards the water till they were swallowed by a wave!
Cost of participating in the release
The entrance fees for the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre is IDR 25,000 (US$ 2). The centre requests a further donation of IDR 150,000 (US$ 10) to adopt and release a baby turtle. We were more than happy to contribute after seeing the amazing work at the centre.
Also, if you participate in a turtle release, you receive a certificate. A perfect memorabilia of your travels in my opinion.
We loved that the workers at the centre were avid nature lovers. They even invited us for their midnight trip to a beach to observe turtles emerging from the ocean to nest. It was a pity that we were leaving Sanur the same day.
Bottom line, if you’re an animal lover, this is one opportunity you don’t want to miss the next time you’re in Bali.