Euan Thum

A Symbolism of HOPE

Did you know, even when sea turtle eggs are successfully incubated, it is estimated that only 1 out of 1000 babies would survive till adulthood?

My recent site visit to Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery, Terengganu has opened my eyes to the fragility of sea turtles' survival.

Sea turtle eggs are exposed to dangers of being poached by humans, hunted by monitor lizards, infested by fungi and maggots; when they hatch, babies might be attacked by predators such as foxes, crabs and sea birds on their way to the sea. Even when they reach the ocean, carnivorous fish and sea birds remain huge threats.

When my group was handed baby sea turtles to release, we got to let them race. I named mine 'Gomenasai', the Japanese word for 'Sorry', as an apology on behalf of humans to their kind. It's been way too long since humans started poaching sea turtle eggs and destroying their habitats and nesting grounds with pollution as well as coastal development.

We were told that the best time to release baby turtles is at dusk, when the sea birds have returned to their nests and the fish have become inactive. This greatly reduces the risk of them getting eaten and helps to give their journey a smooth start. As much as I felt bad for these fragile creatures, I saw the baby in my right hand as a symbolism of HOPE. There was so much potential in that little body- it could live for decades and swim to the furthest point I would ever reach in the oceans. It could go anywhere it wants to.

And I will never stop praying that the babies we released remain safe and healthy.
Euan Thum