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One of the reasons we chose to go Bubbles Dive Resort is because it is blessed with nesting turtles and a house reef. Best of all, they run a conservation program to educate the general public as well. The first day we reached we noticed a little hut that stated “Turtle Conservation”. Our first night, after the dinner, we attended a mini talk by one of the conservation program volunteers about turtles in the “Turtle Conservation” room. It gave a great insight not only to the children but to the adults as well.
Home learning and travel tip #1: Let your children be aware what programs are available there and allow them to choose to attend or not to attend. There’s no need to force them to do what they don’t want to and make everyone miserable. It’s a holiday and everyone should be happy, remember?
If you have read our previous blog post, Home Learning Trip Part 1: Learning more about turtles and nature (with home learning and travel tips), we headed to our room after dinner so that we can recharge ourselves for the night because the green sea turtles usually lay their eggs each night right on their beach! We do not know what time it will come but if we are keen to catch the action we have to put up a sign on our room’s door to indicate our preferences. What a cute idea!
Home learning and travel tip #2: Allow your children to take up some responsibility. Smarties were in charge of the signboard to make sure it was switched to “Yes” if they want to catch the turtles in action. They felt great and it groomed their confidence too. It is also a way for them to adapt to new roles and responsibilities that are required when travel.
We placed a “Yes” on our door and we couldn’t wait to be woken up by the “turtle patrol”. Our first night was really exciting. We got woken up at 12 am to catch the mommy turtle in action. Smarties had a hard time getting up as they were way too tired due to the long traveling journey and fun day at the beach. Nonetheless, they woke up without any fuss and followed us to the beach. It was pitch dark and there was only dim red light to guide us along the way as white light may distract the mommy turtle.
All of us have to be extremely quiet and staying a distance from the turtle so that she could do her job undisturbed. Otherwise, she will abort the process if she feels harassed or feels she is in danger. Everyone was watching in awe while the mommy turtle was busy with her work. Her flippers were really powerful as she used it to dig the sand and also to cover her chamber after that. Smarties were excited and curious at the same time as they watched as they wondered how long is going to take and what she’s going to do next.
Home learning and travel tip #3: Observation in silence. Teach your children how to behave or react when they are in different environments and situations. Best way to learn is when you are at it.
Once her job was done, she covered her chamber and went to another spot nearby to make another chamber and covered it up again by throwing the sand in all directions so that it is harder for predators to find the eggs. On average, a turtle lays about 80 – 120 eggs and the size of the egg is like a ping pong ball. We were lucky that we managed to catch turtles laying eggs for 2 consecutive nights. The next day, it was at 6 am and it was much clearer for us to watch it in action. It was magical!
When the job was done and the nest was concealed thoroughly, the mommy turtle slowly made its way back to the sea to rest before the next nesting later in the season. Is sad though because once the mommy turtle left her nest, she never return to look after it. So when the baby turtles are out, they are all on their own. Indepence training from birth, can you imagine that?
Pardon the “not-so-clear” picture.
What happened to the eggs after that? The volunteers will collect eggs gently and carefully and kept in the Bubbles resort’s hatchery until they hatch. Smarties were patiently standing at a side watching the volunteer slowly digging up the sand. gently picking up the eggs from the chamber and placing it into a container.
Home learning and travel tip #4: Best learning experience is when you are out of the classroom and getting the real life experience. Traveling provides loads of opportunities for unique learning experiences. In schools, we all learn through books. When we travel, we learn through real-world applications which can be much richer in context and substance compared to classroom learning.
Look at the eggs in the container. Do they look like ping pong balls?
We were really fortunate as we managed to catch hatchlings 2 days in a row too! Our first hatchlings experience was early in the morning when the sun just came out, hence we managed to see those cute baby turtles being released into the sea with a much better view. Smarties were so thrilled to see all the little ones in the container moving around, trying to get out.
Do you know that only about 1 in 1000 of these baby turtles survive to adulthood? Once they are out in the ocean, there are many obstacles for the hatchlings as they can be eaten by sharks, big fish, birds, or they may even die by eating plastic garbage thinking that it’s a seaweed. Sounds scary but it’s the truth.
Home learning and travel tip #5: Always best to give your children some pre-preparation before the trip. For example, since we are coming to watch the turtles, we learn some facts about them and understanding them in general so that they know what’s going on when they get to see them.
Here we were waiting to see the babies being released and it was amazing!
All the cute little ones finding their way to the sea. To me, it felt like watching our little babies making their first step. The feeling was awesome!
Gor gor was standing by near the water and watching how the little ones swim into the sea. The current was pretty strong, some baby turtles were being swept back to the land and they struggled their way back to the sea. Everyone was exhilarated at such a wonderful sight.
Oh look, a little one lost its way and needed a little help. Isn’t it cute?
On the day when we were about to leave, we saw a dead turtle being swept up to the shore. The volunteers were quick to pull it up and started making a hole in the forest to have it buried while one of them taking pictures and making a record of the turtle’s measurements and reason of death. It was really sad as we were told it could be knocked down by a boat due to its injury on its shell. Smarties were really upset seeing such a scene and mei mei wouldn’t even want to get near it to see how badly injured it was.
Home learning and travel tip #6: Traveling means getting out of your comfort zone. You are no longer in a comfort of your own home and you have to experience what’s out there and learn how to response or react appropriately. Children, as well as adults, learn the most in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations. It can be really scary but that’s the best way to help you grow.
On the whole, our trip was better than we thought. Catching the mommy turtle laying eggs and hatchlings being released were not a 100% guarantee thing. We did prepare smarties about the uncertainty that we may encounter and they should be ready to embrace it. We were really blessed to be able to catch all of them and a full life cycle of a turtle from birth to death. Although the journey was tiring, it was definitely all worth it after what we have experienced throughout the 4 days there!