Monday, February 13, 2012

The Turtle Islands: The Magnificent Green Sea Turtls

This is the first of a series of pictures from the Turtle Islands in the Philippines and Malaysia. Keith Ellenbogen, a photographer and frequent contributor to the Global Explorers Blog, is sharing pictures from the expedition with Conservation International and the Ocean Health Index to create an awareness about environmental threats and solutions that impact the relationship between people and the sea.

The Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area consists of a group of nine islands: three in Malaysia and six in the Philippines. They are appropriately called "The Turtle Islands" and represent a transboundary conservation agreement focused on protecting the endangered green sea turtle. These nine islands make up the largest green sea turtle sanctuary in Southeast Asia. 

In the Philippines sea turtles nest and hatch naturally. This picture captures the moment when Green Sea Turtle hatchlings emerge from the sand.

One of the most memorable moments I experienced on the islands was I encountered mating green sea turtles. From the boat in the horizon we spotted two sea turtles that broke the surface taking a breath of air. I grabbed my tank, jumped into the blue and swam or I should say sprinted underwater.

Mating endangered green sea turtles

Alone in the ocean with these mating sea turtles I was able to dive, photograph and videograph them for about twenty minutes.  They could have easily swam away but for one reason or another they seemed to enjoy my presence and there was a non-verbal connection established by eye contact and body language.  Maybe they also liked the sound of the bubbles as I inhaled and exhaled faster then normal to keep up with their slow cruising pace.

Green Sea Turtle lays eggs on a sandy beach in the Turtle Islands, Philippines. Typically the sea turtles lay about 75-100 eggs.

The green sea turtle is an iconic species. It is a majestic animal one that represents more than just the sea turtle but has become a symbol and often viewed as representative of healthy ocean.  These islands are a special place where governments, conservation groups and communities have come together to protect this animal. This year the park rangers in The Turtle Islands have recorded record numbers of hatchlings.

In Malaysia sea turtles eggs are collected and placed in a hatchery.  Once they emerge the park ranger counts the baby green sea turtles and releases in the sea.

More sea turtle photos and videos are posted to Conservation International’s Blog.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! These photographs are amazing. They capture beautifully the life of these animals. I almost feel like I'm there in person to see those little thin-skinned baby turtles peaking out of the sand for the first time. Thank you Keith!