A PROMISING FUTURE FOR SEA TURTLES IN MALAYSIAPhotographs © Sabah Parks The magnificent Turtle Islands Park in Sabah is one of the most successful conservation parks in the world. Under the protection of Sabah Parks, Park Rangers record each turtle landing, nesting, egg and hatchling numbers to document and safeguard the islands as an ecological paradise for turtles. The island also permits visitors (under strict capacity laws) to stay overnight and observe the complete lifecycle of turtles, which in turn helps fund the conservation movement on the islands. Comprising three small islands – Selingaan, Gulisan and Bakungan Kechil – the park is accessible via a one-hour boat ride off Sandakan, Sabah. Permission to visit the islands must be obtained from Sabah Parks and can be applied through Crystal Quest – www.turtleisland.com.my/ - for reservation of accommodation, however, due to limited accommodation, tours must be booked in advance to ensure visitation to the park. Fortunately, the turtles lay their eggs throughout the year, allowing year-round access to the islandThe main island (Selingaan Island) houses the park’s headquarters, turtle hatchery, accommodation and basic facilities, while the other two islands are more for conservation activities. Visitors will be able to witness the egg laying process, collection of eggs being transplanted into hatcheries for incubation and the releasing of baby turtles to the sea. Rangers will inform if there are any turtle landings and visitors are encouraged to witness the turtle mothers lay their eggs. To help further promote turtle conservation, all visitors are encouraged to adopt a sea turtle nest to help contribute to the successful protection of the green and hawksbill sea turtle species. Nevertheless, the islands are also home to beautiful tropical reefs and re-energising azure blue waters for visitors to swim, snorkel and scuba dive, as well as enriching mud volcanoes that bubble liquid mud from the natural gas coming from underneath the surface of the earth. DID YOU KNOW?The sex of the turtle is based entirely on the temperature of the sand during its incubation. The cooler the sand, the more males, while warmer sand will birth more females. At Turtle Islands Park, Sabah Parks ensure a mixture of shady cooler sand and warmer sand to ensure a consistent ratio of genders.