Interview with staff of Turtles Conservation and Education Center

The volunteers you send us which later on become our extended arms when informing both their home countries and other people as well. This is really helpful for us.

It seems hard to believe, but approximately 30,000 sea turtles supposedly have been killed in Bali until the end of the 90’s. The animals have been killed to be used as trading goods like accessories, for soups, for Satay Penyu (spit roasted turtle) and for important Hindu ceremonies, which almost let to extinction of the animal. Balinese and Indonesian people have been their worst enemy during this time, as I Made Karse, an important foundation ground of a turtle conservation and education center in Bali, states.

 

“Back in 2003, since we responded as a group, the government, NGOs (Social Communities) and the media came together to find a solution. A year later, in 2004, we began to establish this turtle center. After that, we immediately started to act.“

Opening up the turtle conservation center

“I am one of the founders who initiate the establishment of this turtle conservation.”, says I Made Karse, who was born in Bali. “The most prominent activity here in this conservation is to save the turtle eggs and monitoring the hatching period to conserve the increasing population.”

 

Bali is one of the hot spots in Indian and Pacific Ocean for egg deposition, many of the turtles traveling thousands of kilometers to get back to the place where they have hatched. The Olive ridlay sea turtle is one of the 3 different sea turtle species, which is kept and raised in the center until it finally can be released again.

 

In 2006, the turtle center was eventually opened. It is open for everybody, who is interested to learn more about the sea turtles in Bali, about their natural habitats and the activities of the center. Since 3 years they have now been receiving the help of international volunteers, who actively support the conservation of the sea turtles

The support of international volunteers

Volunteers travel far to offer their support to the center. This will make the locals think and motivates us in our daily efforts.

According to I Made Karse, there have been a lot of issues in the preservation as a lot of people exploited the sea turtles. It is now his goal to protect and preserve the endangered animals, which seems like a tough task having only 5 staffs working in the center. But every single one of them cherish their work. “We all have the same mission that is acting together to conserve the sea turtles as much as we can.”, says Made and uses the opportunity to express his gratitude towards everybody who has been supporting them. “We are very very aided. First, any kind of help is great. In the sense of that our work can be supported. Second, the volunteers Bali Internships send us which later on become our extended arms when informing both their home countries and other people as well. This is really helpful for us.“

The humans are the sea turtles worst enemy

Since 3 years it has been recognized that slaughtering of sea turtles in unacceptable and hence has been prohibited by the Indonesian government and Hindu priests. Locals must be informed about the fatal decline of the turtle population due to our careless environmental awareness. Sea turtles are seen as the “ambassadors of the ocean” (Lida Pet-Soede, biologist for tropical marine life in Bali). How we treat our ocean is how we treat the turtles. Seeing that tons of waste are led into the sea in Bali every day and how beaches are crowded by tourists, we still do not seem to take our task as serious as we should. Natural habitats and breeding grounds of the turtles undergo a tremendous change or even disappear. Although the thread is of a different kind nowadays, the cause can still be ascribed to only one: us.

 

“I also hope that everyone will be able to do the same: that local people’s heart will be touched and they become more concerned so they decide to support our mission. Like in this case for example, when people come from far far away to help us. This should make the locals even more concerned. This motivates our activities here. “

Engagement and innovation is needed

For the next step, we need to find out what we are lacking of with the help of thoughtful volunteers we are expecting for the upcoming future.

On a daily basis volunteers support the center by feeding the turtles every morning and cleaning the 12 fresh water tanks. In addition, some ill and injure turtles suffering from parasites or mushrooms have to be treated. Many volunteers do not realize that their support goes beyond that. During their work they will learn about the turtle’s behavior and their threats and can pass their knowledge on to visiting tourists. Most of the staff can speak only a little English and need their support as guides. Made emphasizes, how much they appreciate new innovative ideas from all volunteers: “I am very much hoping that there is not only physical help but also with the volunteers’ way of thinking: what we are lacking of, what we need to improve and what we can do for it. Something that I personally think is right, yet apparently is not for someone else.”

I Made Karse, one of the turtle station's founder

 

 

Volunteer helping the hatching turtles. One nest contains 40-50 eggs.

 

 

Freshly hatched turtle, which will be released after being  nursed for 2-3 weeks in the station.

 

 

Volunteer Konrad, biologist, showing the claw of a hawksbill sea turtle – an evidence of evolutionary morphology.

 

 

Hawksbill seat turtle that has been badly injured by a ship's propellor.