The Turtle Observation In Sukamade, Meru Betiri National Park, Banyuwangi

Yusuke Koizumi – Japan

This weekend was the greatest one in my stay in Indonesia so far. Roni, James, Bram, Akbar, Afif, Narendra and I went to a national park, which is located in the south from Surabaya to observe turtles there. We squeezed in a car, though it is just for 8 people, with a big tent and lots of foods and then started from Surabaya in the midnight.

Before going to the national park, we were supposed to go to a school near to the park and it was around 6am when we arrived at the school. Firstly, we were invited by a principle into her house and had a small breakfast and a shot of sleep. After that, we went to the school and did a workshop there. James and I made a presentation about the eco-school in each country for the students and teachers as well. They were very interested in our countries’ strategy for the environment and asked many questions for us.

After we had a lunch in the school, we proceeded to the national park. It was expected to take 4 hours to the national park but when we arrived at the entrance of that, it was passed 8pm. We had a short but heavy rain on the way. Maybe the rainy season is coming around. Anyway, we had to sleep at the base-camp at the entrance because the way to the sea is much rougher than the previous, so we cannot drive the car anymore and it got too dark to walk in the forest. We made a big tent which seems the capability is for 15 people, then slept.

The next day, we woke up at around 6am. After James and I took a shower and the others prayed, we visited a fisherman’s place. There might be 40 people working there, catching fishes in the sea and collecting them into boxes on the shore and taking them into the stock. We also had some interview with the people about their work, the condition of the sea and the envirronment around. It was so nice to see the local community and have some conversation with the people, observing the environment in the national park.

And finally, we started our trip to the shore where the turtles come up and lay its eggs. We had to go over one mountain. The way to the shore was totally rough and made us completely tired but we saw some wild animals like black-body monkeys, quite big girds and even wild boars. These were awesome. And after almost 3 hours trekking, we reached at our final destination at last. It was 3pm when we arrived and we had some short break on the shore waiting for the night when the turtles come up.

There were some guides from the national park to show us the turtles as we followed them at 8pm. There was no light on the shore and even the moon was also covered with clouds, so we could see the sea was bright when the waves turned into white colour. Was so amazing. And the guides were seeking the trace of the turtles and we finally could see a turtle when one of them found it. I have never seen such a big turtle in the nature.

It was just laying its eggs at that time. However, there were around 3 students also joining the turtle observation tour with us and they were screaming and taking photos with bright flush. Although the guides said it is no problem if we even touched the turtle after it laid eggs, it seems they scared it. After laid eggs, the turtle went back to the sea. Which took almost one hour to get to the sea though.

Almost all I experienced in this trip was first one. I found many things and could get lots of knowledge from them. The conservation would be the next theme that I should take.