As a travel destination, Bali has a lot to offer nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. For decades, swimming with turtles has been a bucket-list adventure that Bali has been all too ready to offer tourists.
But as tourism on the island continues to boom, conservationists are concerned about the influence development has on turtle habitats.
The Founder of the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (KBSTCC) I Gusti Ngurah Tresna, also known affectionately as Mr Turtle, has been an advocate for the wellbeing of wild turtles in Kuta Beach and the surrounding areas for decades.
Tresna has recently reached out to reporters to share his observations about how tourism is changing turtle nestling habits in the island’s busiest beaches.
For centuries, turtles have been laying their eggs on Kuta Beach. But as beach use changes the environment, Tresna is noticing that turtles are moving to different locations to nest.
He and his teams have seen that German Beach and Sekeh Beach, and to the north, Legian Beach and Seminyak Beach are also seeing increasing turtle nesting sites; but that overall, the number of nests is decreasing.
Tresna told reporters “Indeed, 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.”
However, turtles nesting on Kuta Beach, German Beach, Sekeh Beach, Legian Beach, and Seminyak Beach are hardly welcomed by undisturbed peace.
All of these beaches have buildings either on the beach, or directly opposite the sand. Bright lights in the Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak area can be seen from as far along the Canggu, and even over the ocean along the Bukit Peninsula.
Tresna added “This does not mean that there are absolutely no turtles laying eggs along Kuta Beach. There are still turtles laying eggs in the Kuta Beach area, especially those without abrasion barriers, namely in front of the Kuta Beach Task Force office to the south.”
He noted that coastal erosion also has a part to play in the changing nesting habits of turtles and that he and his teams support the work of Badung Regency to mitigate coastal erosion on Kuta Beach.
This week the Badung Regency Public Works and Spatial Planning (PUPR) Department is getting started on a new project to construct coastal revetments on a number of popular tourist beaches in an effort to protect the coast from abrasion.
Revetments will be built on Kuta Beach, and also at Pandawa Beach, Cemagi Beach, and Pererenan Beach.
Speaking on behalf of the PUPR Badung Office, AA Rama Putra, told reporters “The work area is from the front of Bentar Utama Temple to the north.”
“We hope that with this step we can maintain the sustainability of the environment around Kuta Beach and provide better protection for the affected infrastructure.”
Tourists will notice more building activity on Kuta Beach for the next 2-3 weeks. The work should be completed in time for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Tresna told reporters, “We have been carrying out conservation efforts for 23 years. So when people find out that a turtle is laying eggs, they already know what to do. So they have covered it first and then informed us. Sometimes tourists also inform us.”
It is imperative that if tourists come across a turtle nest, especially if hatchings are being born, to not interfere with the process at all.
While many tourists worry that the turtles do not have the strength to hatch through the sand, intervening with the process poses a huge threat to their survival.
The nest should be left alone, cordoned off if possible and the teams at Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center or the BKSDA informed.
Tresna revealed that so far this year at least 275 Olive Ridley turtle nests have been found in the Kuta Beach area, with a total of around 50-60 thousand eggs. However, this number is relatively low compared to the previous year.
He concluded “The turtle nesting season is usually March to October, then stops when the rainy season arrives. Now it’s a bit late, but this month alone we still found one nest appearing.”
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