Today I thought it would be interesting for me to share with you what I get up to each day as an intern at Lang Tengah Turtle Watch. This might explain why I’m always saying how busy I am!
5 am: Hatchery Check
Our first job of the day is the 15 or so minute bike ride to our guest hatcheries that are located within the resort. Here we use red light to check if any hatchlings have emerged from their nests since our rangers last checked at 12am. If we find any on the surface, or poking their heads out, we walk about 400 meters down the beach to release them.
6-8am: Nest Relocations
This is the time frame most of our relocations happen during. Usually we work in teams of two – tender holders arrive from various surrounding beaches with eggs that they have carefully removed from nests laid that night. We then choose a plot in our hatchery, and create an artificial nest chamber about 70cm deep in the sand. Then we count and place the eggs into the chamber and cover them up where they will remain undisturbed until day 37 of incubation when we first check on them.
9 am: Nest Checks and Post Hatch Inspections
This is when we check on the health of the turtle eggs in our hatcheries. After a nest has been relocated, we conduct checks periodically to monitor development and look for any potential problems like fungal infections and crab attacks. We conduct some of these with guests, so it become a busy morning of presenting, digging and data collection.
Post Hatch Inspections are done a few days after all hatchlings have emerged from a nest. We dig up the entire contents, and sort everything into categories. Usually, this means a lot of empty shells, but sometimes it can get a bit more complicated, and we will have to open unhatched eggs to assess the reasons some eggs remained undeveloped.
10 am-7 pm: Hut Shifts and Admin
We are based at Tanjong Jara Resort, and have a visitors’ hut on the beachfront that is open between 10am – 5pm everyday. Here we sell merchandise such as t shirts, jewellery and bags, chat to guests about turtles, and encourage people to donate or adopt a nest. This is a particularly exhausting part of the job in the heat and humidity, as our hut is an open wooden platform.
When we aren’t on the hut shifts, we have a lot of administration tasks to get through each day. Our nest adoption program is very involved and requires the preparation of several written updates, emails and photographs everyday. We also collect a lot of data which needs to be added to our hard and soft records. The other tasks we do during the day vary a lot – painting, cleaning, preparing worksheets, stocktaking etc.
7 pm: Cooking & Eating
We have to cook all our own meals here, with a very limited supply of kitchen utensils and ingredients. Our kitchen is also like a sauna so this is one of my least favourite activities.
9 pm: Hatchling Release
If we have a lot of hatchlings that are ready to go, we will call the resort reception and let them know that we are doing a public release at 10pm. After we set up the hut and prepare the hatchlings, we give a briefing to the guests about our program and the rules for the evening. Then we walk a couple of hundred metres down the beach to a runway that we make using sand and release all our little babies to sea.
12 am-5 am: On Call
During the night we take turns at being on call. This means that if a turtle lays on either of the beaches managed by LTTW, we get a call asking us to come and collect the eggs as the turtle lays them, then relocate them. This is one of the most special things we get to do – seeing nesting mothers up close and watching as she carefully constructs her nest.
And there you have it – I hope you found this interesting, and if you’re considering volunteering or interning with LTTW that it’s given you a clearer picture of what we get up to.
Also, I’m now well on the way to purchasing a second Emma & Friends nest – thankyou very much for your generous donations!