What I went to see…

A very long time ago, I studied Biology at university.

Now, as I stand in front of my classes saying “Repeat after me: How many cows?” it seems impossible to believe that at one time, I could tell you the difference between meiosis and mitosis, describe the neurological system of cockroaches, and determine the sex of a shrimp.  While none of these skills has proved particularly useful in the real world, they do help to explain why I wanted to go to Borneo.  I wanted to see LIFE.  Animals, insects, plants, fungi – if it was alive, I wanted to see it.

And during my last two days in Borneo, I did just that.

We boarded a speed boat in Sandakan and headed out into the Sulu Sea. Along the way, we passed a village on stilts.  It seemed a rather romantic way to live but I suspect that reality would prove otherwise…

After about an hour, we spotted Pulau Selingaan. After so many days of rain, it seemed like a mirage.

Pulau Selingaan, is one of the islands in Turtle Island National Park, a marine conservation area cooperatively managed by Malaysia and the Philippines.  In the Malaysian part of the park, visitors are only allowed on Pulau Selingaan.

The islands of the Turtle Island National Park are breeding grounds for the Green Sea turtle and the Hawksbill Sea turtle, both of which are endangered species.  Females of both species come ashore every night to lay eggs.  The eggs are collected and placed in hatcheries to protect them from predators.

Predators like this monitor lizard…

The results of the previous few nights are displayed on a screen at the entrance to the meal hall.

But since the turtles only came ashore during the night, we had all day to frolic and explore.

What a gorgeous place!

Turtle tracks!

The entire island took about 30 minutes to walk around, and then it was time to snorkel!

Photo: Kate Griffiths

Nobody was allowed on the beach after 6pm, and so we played cards in the meal hall, waiting for a turtle to come ashore.  It was almost 10pm before we were told to quietly follow our guide to the beach.  The park rules were strict: No flash photography, no crowding the turtle, no wandering off.

I noticed the stars first.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many stars.  And then I saw the turtle.  Gorgeous.

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

She seemed completely oblivious to the fact that her eggs were being taken away.

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

Once she was done laying her eggs (83 eggs!), her measurements were taken for the Park’s records.

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

We were taken to another part of the beach so the turtle could make her way back to the sea without an audience.  Once we arrived, we were shown these guys: a basket of sea turtle hatchlings.

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

It was amazing to watch them madly dash towards the ocean on their wee little flippers!

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

I wondered how many of them would survive?  We could see small sharks swimming around eagerly in the shallows.  Poor little guys.

The next day, we went to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.  Amazing.  We were greeted at the front gate by this guy.

There were orangutans, just wandering around.  It was great!!

More orangs…

Photo: Alex MacKay

Photo: Alex MacKay

Photo: Alex MacKay

Then there were the orangutan paparazzi…

We also went to see some Proboscis monkeys.  Funny-looking aren’t they? 😀

They are only found in Borneo and are very strong swimmers! They are also endangered.

One the way home, I picked up some orangutan treats for my staffroom. 😀


About Carrie K

Teacher, writer, traveller. Slightly neurotic. Overly talkative. Loving life. You can also follow me on Twitter: kimchigirl72
This entry was posted in Borneo, Malaysia, Teachers, teaching in Korea, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What I went to see…

  1. Tiffany says:

    Oh man! I love turtles! 🙂 You are so luck to have seen them. I’m telling myself all of those newly hatched ones made it out to sea safely.

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