Indonesia is home to some of the most endangered wildlife species on earth.
Although tourists don’t always associate Bali with being a haven for wildlife, especially since destinations like Sumatra and Kalimantan are considered more wild, the island of Bali is home to some special creatures in need of our consideration.
Bali and the surrounding islands are home to six of only seven sea turtle species. These are Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Flatback.
These species nest all around the island, with a high number returning to nesting sites in the Kuta and Legion areas.
Upsetting footage of a turtle returning to its nest on Legian Beach late at night is circulating online. The scene is dark, and the turtle can be seen moving much quicker than usual as fireworks are let off just meters away.
The loud noises, flashing lights, and public on the beach make it clear that the turtle is disturbed by the fireworks.
What makes the footage so shocking is that fireworks are, in fact, banned on all of Bali’s beaches without special permission from the regency authorities.
In almost all cases, permission to let off fireworks on Bali’s beaches is formally declined unless on New Year’s Eve.
For a long time, the Legian Traditional Village has implemented a strict prohibition on lighting fireworks at Legian Beach in the Kuta resort area. Both locals, tourists, and business owners who fail to comply with the ban are fined IDR 2 million.
The Chairman of Legian Beach Management, I Made Agus Susila Dharma, confirmed that this rule is still in place and has been established to protect the endangered turtle breeding ecosystem at Legian Beach.
One concerned Bali lover commented on the footage: “I’d really like to see fireworks banned in any public place where there are no safety regulations in place..”
She added, “It’s sad enough that it impacts the natural habitat of these incredible turtles, but it also impacts the Bali dogs, other animals, and any person who happens to be in the vicinity of this careless behavior.”
The conflict between turtles and tourism has been acknowledged for some time, though this footage really hammers home the impact tourism is having on wildlife and that simple measures can be put in place to help ensure harmony for all.
Bali’s famous Mr Turtle, the founder of the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (KBSTCC) I Gusti Ngurah Tresna, spoke with reporters in November to discuss how tourism is changing turtle nesting habits in the Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak area.
Tresna is an enthusiastic turtle conservation whom many Bali lovers will be familiar with. He is often in attendance at the community turtle release sessions on Kuta Beach.
He revealed to reporters that on German Beach, Sekeh Beach, Legian Beach, and Seminyak Beach, he and his teams are seeing increasing turtle nesting sites, but that overall, the number of nests is decreasing.
Mr Turtle confirmed that nesting habits are changing as these areas are shifting.
He said, “Currently, the tendency for turtles to lay their eggs has shifted slightly to the south and north of Kuta Beach. Turtles look for places that are dark and not too busy.”
Last year, equally shocking videos were shared online of tourists interfering with turtles hatching as they were leaving the nest.
It is imperative that humans do not interfere with turtle eggs, hatchlings, or adults approaching nesting sites.
Although to the untrained eye, hatchlings appear to struggle to break through the shells, they know exactly what they are doing and where they are going.
Humans interfering with this process, moving the sand around the nest, or even picking up the hatchlings could kill them. If tourists are lucky enough to come across a turtle on the beach, simply give it plenty of space and observe from a distance, likewise with hatchlings.
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