If you are in Sabah and is looking for an amazing experience, why don’t you pay a visit to Turtle Island Park? The Turtle Island Park consists of the islands of Bakungan Kecil, Selingan and Gulisan. The Turtle Island Park lies 40 miles north of the coast of Sandakan in the Sulu Sea. This 1740 hectare marine park also encompasses the surrounding sea and coral reefs between these three island. Selingan Island is the most famous of them all.
The Turtle Island Park in Sandakan is famous throughout Sabah for its green and hawksbill turtles. These magnificent creatures would land on the beaches of Turtle Island Park every year to lay their eggs before returning to the warm embrace of the sea. Seeing them coming out of the water at night and landing on the beach is a sight that is not to be missed. Due to the presence of these gentle sea creatures the Sabah state government has designated Turtle Island Park in Sandakan as a conservation centre in order to protect these endangered species from harm.
Apart from being home to the green and hawksbill turtles, Turtle Island Park has several wonderful beaches, beautiful coral gardens and palm trees surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Sulu Sea. It is an ideal place for you to watch the beautiful sunrise and capture the moment on your camera. The clear waters and beautiful coral reefs surrounding the Turtle Island Park also makes this the ideal place for you to do some swimming and scuba diving. Who knows, you might even encounter these beautiful turtles when you are in the waters.
If you want to see the turtles laying their eggs, the best time for you to come is between the months of July and October. These months are the peak season for them to lay their eggs. On average, around 50 turtles would make their beach landings during this time period. You could see these turtles in either of the three islands that makes up the Turtle Island Park. You should be able to see these turtles laying eggs either during sunrise or sunset.
Selingan Island, the largest of the three islands, has an on-site turtle hatchery, tourist accommodations and a visitors centre. In fact Selingan Island is the only island in the Turtle Island Park where visitors are allowed to stay overnight. The park authority will only allow up to 38 visitors to stay overnight in Selingan Island in order to avoid any disturbance to the turtles.
Do bear in mind that you are not allowed to be at the beach from sunrise to sunset in order not to disturb the turtles. However you will have the opportunity to watch one turtle laying its egg per night from a short distance. So do take the opportunity to take photos during that time.
You will also be able to observe the Turtle Island Park staff collecting the eggs that are then deposited into an incubation chamber in the hatchery. The eggs will remain there until they are hatched. Who knows, you might even be fortunate enough to see the eggs hatching and see thelittle turtles being released into the sea. The sight of these hatchlings swimming away from the shores and into the sea is just simply amazing. You’d have to be there yourself to appreciate this spectacle.
Needless to say that you will find the sight of the turtles laying eggs to be something that is unforgettable. This unique experience of this miracle of nature will have a lasting impression on you long after you have left the beautiful Turtle Island Park in Sandakan.