Looking for a fun and free activity where you can interact with animals and help conservation at the same time? At the Bali Sea Turtle Society (BSTS), you can volunteer to release baby sea turtles into the sea. This conservation project was founded in 2001 by Balinese Wayan Wiradnyana.
The busy coast of Bali (especially Kuta) is a popular place for turtles to lay their eggs. The BSTS rescues these eggs and protects them until the turtles are hatched and ready to be released into the wild.
There are several organizations working to protect turtles in Bali, but BSTS is the best known of them and also seems to be the best organized. It attracts people from all over the world who want to release baby sea turtles.
Where is the Bali Sea Turtle Society located?
The BSTS is located in Kuta Beach, Bali. Just look for the large turtle statue on the sidewalk. The release of the turtles takes place directly on the beach.
The BSTS is doable as a day trip from any part of the island, but if you are staying outside of Kuta, you should leave early as there can be traffic jams at times. July is high season in Kuta and there is particularly heavy traffic.
It is best to combine this excursion with an evening walk on the beach. In fact, another plus point of releasing the turtles is that you can witness the magnificent sunset on Kuta Beach while doing so.
What is the procedure for releasing the turtles?
The Bali Sea Turtle Society’s trained staff collects sea turtle eggs from the beach and brings them to the central hatchery at the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center to protect the nests and increase the likelihood that they will hatch.
Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings are counted, and if there are enough healthy baby turtles, BSTS arranges for their release. If this is not the case, the staff will release the young animals without volunteers.
Thanks to regular updates on the BSTS Facebook page, tourists can find out at any time when and where the next release of baby sea turtles will take place. Judging by the numbers, this is an extremely popular activity that also helps educate people about the importance of conservation.
As a volunteer, the first thing you have to do is find out if there is a release when you are in the area. If so, the next step is to head to the Bali Sea Turtle Society center, which can easily be found on Kuta Beach by either following the location on Google Maps or looking for the giant plastic turtle. You can not miss them.
There, you must be in line by 4 p.m. for a token that will later give you a chance to release one of the turtles. There are only a limited number of such brands and in high season the demand is definitely very high, so you should get there early to avoid disappointment. Once you receive your token (which is technically free, but donations are gladly accepted), you are sent away to wait for a short time before a beep brings the group back together and a brief briefing is given.
Now a queue forms again, and this time you are handed a plastic box. However, it is not for snacking between meals, but for the tiny baby turtle that will be taken out of a turtle tank and handed over to you so that you can take good care of it and bring it to the beach.
Baby turtles which were released on the beach in Kuta (under supervision):
Once all the volunteers have gathered on the beach, a staff member explains the process of releasing the turtles and what to look for. Then it’s time for the babies to start their new life in the sea.
Important rules of conduct
Once you receive a token from the Conservation Center(it’s free), you’ll have about 15 minutes before a staff member gathers all the volunteers around and explains how to properly release the animals and what rules you need to follow. The rules are quite simple:
- Do not touch your baby turtle. This is not a petting zoo and the turtle is not a pet.
- Stay behind the line drawn in the sand on the beach to give the baby turtles room to waddle into the sea.
- When your turtle is active, hold your hand over the container to keep it from jumping out. The turtle will not bite you.
- Do not use a flash when photographing the turtles. It’s quite a sight to see 300 baby turtles waddle into the ocean, and it’s understandable that you’re eager to take photos, but the use of flash is strictly prohibited.
For whom is a visit to the Bali Sea Turtle Society suitable?
Bali Sea Turtle Society is a great attraction for families with children. Young people can learn more about environmental protection, and it is a wonderful project that will change their view of nature. The history of the organization can also be better understood through the display boards at the Bali Sea Turtle Society.
When the little ones carry their baby turtle in a small plastic container in front of them and scream with joy when they release the little creature into the sea, it is a moment they are sure not to forget anytime soon. But also for all people who are interested in nature conservation, the BSTS is worth a visit.
Weblinks for further reading
Kuta is a popular tourist destination and there is plenty to experience. At the top of your list, however, should be the Bali Sea Turtle Society. Releasing young sea turtles is a once in a lifetime experience that is truly overwhelming. In addition, the BSTS makes an important contribution to nature conservation.
Bali Sea Turtle Society
Jl. Pantai Kuta, Kuta