Friday, 17 June 2011

Bugs, Turtles & Monkeys - Setang Besar to Bako

Much to the disappointment of the local mosquito population I’m sure, it was time to leave our safe haven in the river to start moving north again.

Not getting to carried away for a start we decided to do the 10 miles to Palau Setang Besar, an island where they have a breeding program for turtles. The idea is to wait for the turtles to come up the beach at night and start laying their eggs. The Park Rangers then tag the turtle, measure it and remove barnacles etc. Once the turtle has gone, the eggs are dug up and relocated to a fenced area out of harms way. After anchoring and lunch (Jungle fern – the local specialty) we headed over to find out what the deal was.

The Rangers informed us that the previous night 3 turtles had come ashore and after encountering problems during the hole digging process had headed back to sea without laying. We were welcome to come over at 10pm - high tide. By the time 10pm rolled around it was raining and the waves made it feel like we were trying to sleep on the back of a rocking horse. After discussing the pros and cons we bit the bullet and went over anyway.

The ranger greeted us on the shore with the news that a group of Hawks Bill turtle eggs had just hatched and we were welcome to take them down to the shore and set them free.

The rain then stopped and 2 Green turtles came ashore and started digging. One hit a log in it’s first hole and roots in the second, so went back to sea however the second one laid its eggs.

The laying went smoothly after a long and protracted hole digging. After being tagged, etc it headed back to sea.

After a sleep in we donned our snorkeling gear for some barnacle removing of our own on Thyme’s hull. A last stop at the beach revealed our Green Turtle had laid 114 eggs which were now safely buried in a chamber under the sand. In 60 days from now hopefully these baby Green Turtles will scurry down the beach to start their life at sea!

Next on our nature hit list was to find the Proboscis monkey, so we headed further north to the Bako national park. Once anchored we could see them in the treetops on the mainland. The following morning we set out on our search but surprise, surprise it rained forcing us back to the boat.

The next plan was to try our luck on Palau Lekei, the island we were anchored next to. Again the Proboscis could be seen in the treetops but we couldn’t get close. The island did have some nice short walks through different varieties of Pitcher plants and down to a creek. Here the myth has it that an ancient warrior engraved the script in the creek bed with his finger 100’s of years ago. Nobody has been able to translate the writing.

Our next stop will be the mouth of the mighty Rejang, Borneo’s jugular, and the main trade artery for all of central and southern Sarawak.


kiwigal said...

Unreal Guys! What a great experience

The Other mother said...

fantastic looking flora and fauna.