A great news came from Tulap Sea Turtle Conservation Program. For the first time since the sea turtle hatchery program began in April 2011, leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) eggs hatches in this beach. IUCN declared this species as vulnerable.
Globally, leatherback status according to IUCN is listed as Vulnerable, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic) are Critically Endangered.
This sea turtle species is also the biggest sea turtle species in the world with. Leatherback sea turtle can grow to around 2 m long and weigh up to 900 kg. Unlike other species of sea turtles, the leatherback’s shell isn’t hard. this reptile has a leathery shell that’s quite soft and flexible.
Local people claimed that the last time they saw leatherback landed in this beach was ten years ago. On September 2nd. 2019, 95 leatherback hatchlings emerged from the Tulap’s beach sand. Two months ago, Tulap staffs collected 103 eggs in one hole. They removed the eggs and covered again with sand in sea turtle hatchery area to protect them from human and predators. Predators such as monitor lizard, wild pig and dog, dig the eggs hole and consume them. The sea turtle female, head back to the ocean after she lays her eggs and cover them with sand. The eggs buried in the warm sand without protection. People also dig the eggs and consume or sell them to the market.
Soon after the hatchling hatches, they crawl outside the sand, usually at night to avoid predators. Guarded by the moon light, the hatchlings head to the sea. Sea turtle will spend most of their time in the ocean, eating jellyfish. Certain females will be back to the beach to lay her eggs. Tulap is located in North Sulawesi about an hour’s drive south from Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, and also one hour from the Masarang Foundation headquarters in Tomohon. This beach is is a nesting site for all five of the species of sea turtles that are native to the region.
Photos: Masarang Foundation team