Tuesday, 08 February, 2022 11:16:02 AM

Sabah Islands > Islands off Sandakan  >  Turtle Island Park

Turtle Island Park
Turtle Paradise

Turtle Islands Park is 40 km north of Sandakan Town. It encompasses an area of 1,740 hectares which includes the three islands of Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakkungan Kecil and Pulau Gulisan; the sea and surrounding coral reefs.
Main Attraction
The main attractions here are the turtles which come to nest on their shores. Pulau Selingan is the main nesting area for the green turtles chelonia mydas, while the hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys seem particularly attracted to the shores of Pulau Gulisan. Both species lay their eggs on these shores throughout the year, although the best months are between July to October. The islands were gazette as Marine Parks in 1977 primarily for the protection of these two species in order to save them from extinction.

The Turtle Island Park is also known as Pulau Penyu National Park.
The Park comprises of three islands:
1- Pualau Selingan,
2- Pulau Bakkungan Kecil
3- Pulau Gulisan

The park gained its popularity from the green and hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands.
All the three islands are protected within marine parks on both sides of the Malaysian and Philippine borders.
The turtles lay their eggs all year round but are more common between July and October when the seas are calmer.

Getting there
The best way to visit the Turtle Islands is through one of the many reputable tour companies in Sabah. Alternatively, and sometimes works out a little cheaper, is to go out with Corel Island Cruises which run a boat service to the island. The only difference is that you will be unguided. Turtles nest all year round, but the best times to visit the islands are between July and October when the seas are calmer. Apart from the Turtle Islands, the other attractions in the eastern region include the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sepilok Forest Reserve, Australian War Memorial and further a field, the lower Kinabatangan river which is one of the best places to see a wide array of wildlife from the comfort of the boat!

The islands are built over shallow rocky shoals from coral shingle from the surrounding reef on the fringes. They are covered with a variety of plant life which includes mangrove, lantana, the yellow-flowered sophora and the furry silver-leaved Tournefortia.

Pulau Selingan : 8 hectares in size and is the second largest of 3 islands. The turtles come ashore on the east and southwestern parts of the island to lay their eggs before returning to the sea. They normally come ashore after 7. 30 pm but have also been seen nesting in the early hours of the morning between 5 to 6am.

Accommodation is available on the island for those who wish to stay overnight to witness the nesting. A restaurant is also available for visitors to enjoy hot meals.

Pulau Bakkungan Kecil : This is the largest island and it lies close to the Philippines border. Active mud volcanoes are also present here. These are not true volcanoes but originate as mineral-rich mud, expelled from deep below the surface. The favorite nesting places of the Green Turtles are the beaches on the northern and western shores of the island.

No accommodation facilities on Pulau Bakkungan Kecil.

Pulau Gulisan : This smallest island is only 1.6 hectare in size but remains one of the favorite haunts of the hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the northern, eastern and southwestern beaches. All sea turtles eat marine animals such as sponges, marine worms and molluscs and the hawksbills are no exception. Being carnivorous, they feed on the invertebrate animals of the coral reefs. The adult Green Turtles however, are strict vegetarians, limiting their diet to the underwater grass and seaweed.

Hatcheries : Park staff collect the eggs and transfer them to hatcheries where every effort is made to ensure successful hatching. After an incubation period of about 50 to 60 days, the hatchlings dig their way up to the surface and they are later released to the sea from different points around the islands. They are then on their own, to survive the dangers at sea and perhaps return one day to lay their eggs on the very same shores as their mother once did.

Baby turtles are released at night. Everyone get a chance to hold one for a couple minutes. The proper way is to hold it between 2 fingers. These little guys instinctively know that its time to go to the water, and are doing everything in their power to get there. So while you're holding them, they're flipping wildly. The back flippers have almost no power, but the front ones have strong pull as it is about 3-4 inches long.

The small Turtle Island has a nice beach, but couldn't sit on it long due to the sand flies. When nightfall, mother turtles comes. The turtles can come as early as 7pm, or as late at 2am.

The turtles ID marking was read, and notes were taken and the turtle fill the hole and return on its own.

The eggs are then placed in a hole in the yard of the sanctuary and filled in with sand and given a protective fence around the top. 7 weeks later when the turtles emerge, they are removed from their fenced in area and let safely in to the water.

When it was found that turtles came to this island every night to lay eggs in, the island was turned in to a sanctuary project and hence Turtle Island.

Almost every night mother turtles come up and lay their eggs, after digging a hole in the sand. Each mother turtle lays about 100 eggs. The project workers then go around behind the turtles and remove the eggs as they are laid, and the mother turtle has no knowledge of this. When the turtle has finished, she covers the hole thinking the eggs are inside.

Nesting : The turtles take their time laying their eggs. The whole ritual of emerging from the sea, then choosing a suitable site and clearing the area before laying about 100 eggs ; concealing the eggs with sand and finally taking their leave takes one whole hour!

Another merciless killing of sea turtles in Sabah
Read more: www.theborneopost.com

Another merciless killing of sea turtles in Sabah
Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/04/17/another-merciless-killing-of-sea-turtles-in-sabah/#ixzz3AtbDyYb9

2014 - Another merciless killing of sea turtle

A Fisheries Department staff in Semporna district was on his way home on Tuesday 15th April, 2014 when he saw four dead sea turtles floating at the sea between Bum-Bum Island and Kulapuan Island. He then took pictures and posted on his Facebook.

Top of list of suspects is the seaweed farmers. The re-occurrence of conflict between sea turtle and the seaweed farmers has been recorded since 1990s.
Between Bum Bum Island and Semporna town areas adjacent to Tun Mustapha Marine Park have been the favorite foraging habitat of Green Turtles long before the boom in seaweed farming. Sea turtle is a pest to seaweed farming; they can destroy the entire seaweed farm overnight.

Seaweed farmers are fed up complaining about damages from sea turtles and if they can, will take revenge by harming the animal.

Read more: www.theborneopost.com



Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:59
Number Of Tourist Arrivals To Selingan Island Returning To Normal - Shahidan

"We are confident that the number will reach the normal 1,000 tourists a day..."


Minister in the Prime Minister's Department
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim
told reporters after visiting the security control post
in Selingan Island on Monday, 04 August 2014

The number of tourist arrivals to Selingan Island in Pulau Penyu National Park is returning to normal following the government's move to increase security control in the east coast of Sabah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said. Right now, the number of tourist arrivals to the island stood at between 700 and 900 people daily.

The Pulau Penyu National Park consists of three islands, namely Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan.

However, accommodations for visitors and tourists are only available in Selingan Island.

Turtle Island Park (Pulau Penyu National Park)
2014 : Shahidan taking a protected tour of Pulau Berhala in waters off Sandakan with armed security guards

Wednesday August 6, 2014 Tourists returning to eastern Sabah

“Our forces are placed in areas where there are resorts, and this has resulted in increasing tourist arrivals... We will take immediate steps to further boost and improve security....”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim
August, 2014 after visiting Turtle Island


Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said Tourism in Sabah’s east coast is beginning to pick up again with the high level of security in place. 600 to 700 tourists were heading daily to the various island resorts in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), proving that tourist confidence had been restored. The minister said the number of tourists heading to the various resorts would eventually hit about 1,000 daily, which was the figure before the area was hit by a spate of kidnappings.

Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim was on a two-day visit to the Esszone islands off Sandakan in August 2014. accompanied by Esscom commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.

Visitors Are Forbidden From Engaging In Any Of The Following:
• Wander along the beach after dark. (The Park Ranger will inform you when there is a turtle laying eggs.)

• Build campfires, shine bright torches on the beach, sing, dance or play music on the beach at night.

• Disturb the turtle during the nesting process by coming too close or crowding around her. Instead, visitors re advised to watch the nesting from a distance.

• Under any circumstances, ride on the turtle, pull her flippers, turn her over, jump on her or injure her physically. Such acts of abuse may have adverse effects on future nesting returns.

• Night photography is strictly forbidden on Pulau Selingan but allowed on the other two islands with permission from the Park Ranger.

• Collecting any plant, animal or other living or non-living things is strictly forbidden without prior written permission from the Director of Sabah Parks. Fishing, however, is permitted with hook and line only.

Sabah has 6 Marine Parks open to the public :
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Pulau Tiga Park
Turtle Island Park (Pulau Penyu National Park)
Tun Sakaran Marine Park
Pulau Sipadan Park
Tun Mustapha Marine Park


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