Malaysia My Destination : Info about Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
 
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  Peninsular Malaysia :
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  Access Point :
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  Sabah (Borneo) - East Malaysia :
  Crocker Range National Park
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  Turtle Islands Park
 
  Sarawak (Borneo) - East Malaysia :
  Bako National Park
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Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia Capital - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Putrajaya : Federal Territory - Malaysia
Selangor : Central Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
 
Terengganu : East Coast Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Kelantan : East Coast Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Pahang : East Coast Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
 
Johor / Johore : Southern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Malacca / Melaka : Southern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Negeri Sembilan / The Nine State : Southern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
 
Kedah (Langkawi) : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Penang / Pulau Pinang : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Perak : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Perlis : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
 
Sabah : East Malaysia / Malaysian Borneo - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Labuan (Federal Territory) : East Malaysia / Malaysian Borneo - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Sarawak : East Malaysia / Malaysian Borneo - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
 
 
 
 
NATIONAL PARKS

EAST MALAYSIA / BORNEO : SABAH

Turtle Islands Park

 
 

TURTLE ISLAND PARK

SABAH

 

The Turtle Islands Park lies 40km north of Sandakan in the Sulu Sea off Sabah's east coast. It encompasses 1,740 hectares which includes the three islands of Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakkungan Kecil and Pulau Gulisan; the sea and surrounding coral reefs. The islands are built over shallow rocky shoals from coral shingle from the surrounding reef on the fringes. They are covered with a  variety of plant life which includes mangrove, lantana, the yellow-flowered sophora and the fury silver-leaved Tournefortia.  The main attractions here, however, are the turtles come which to nest on their shores.

 

Pulau Selingan is the main nesting area for the green turtles Chelonia mydas, while the hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys seem particularly attracted to the shores of Pulau Gulisan.  Both species lay their eggs on these shores throughout the year, although the best months are between July to October.  The islands were gazetted as Marine Parks in 1977 primarily for the protection of these two species in order to save them from extinction.

 
 
PLANNING AN ITINERARY
 

A visit to these islands is a must on your itinerary, if you are interested in the conservation of these turtles.

 

Pulau Selingan

Almost 8 hectares in size is the second largest island in the group.  The turtles come ashore on the east and southwestern parts of the island to lay their eggs before returning to the sea.  They normally come ashore after 7:30pm but have also been seen nesting in the early hours of the morning between 5 - 6am.  Accommodation is available on the island for those who wish to stay overnight to witness the nesting.  A restaurant is also available for visitors to enjoy hot meals.

 

Pulau Bakkungan Kecil

This is the largest island and it lies close to the Philippines border.  Active mud volcanoes are also present here. These are not true volcanoes but originate as mineral-rich mud, expelled from deep below the surface.  The favourite nesting places of the green turtles are the beaches on the northern and western shores of the island.  There are no accommodation facilities on Pulau Bakkungan Kecil.

 

Pulau Gulisan

The island is a mere 1.6 hectare in size but remains one of the favourite haunts of the hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the northern, eastern and southwestern beaches.  All sea turtles eat marine animals such as sponges, marine worms and mollusks and the hawksbills are no exception.  Being carnivorous, they feed on the invertebrate animals of the coral reefs.  The adult green turtles however, are strict vegetarians, limiting their diet to the underwater grass and seaweed.

National Parks in Malaysia - Turtle Islands Parks in Sabah, East Malaysia or Borneo

 

Nesting

The turtles really take their time laying their eggs.  The whole ritual of emerging from the sea, then choosing a suitable site and clearing the area before laying its eggs (about 40 - 90 eggs per batch);  concealing the eggs with sand and finally taking their leave takes one whole hour!    So be prepared for a long wait if you wish to observe the nesting.

 

Hatcheries

Park staff collect the eggs and transfer them to hatcheries where every effort is made to ensure successful hatching.

 

After an incubation period of about 50 - 60 days, the hatchlings dig they way up to the surface and they are later released to the sea from different points around the islands.  They are then on their own, to survive the dangers at sea and perhaps return one day to lay their eggs on the very same shores as their mother once did.

 
 
 
GUIDELINES FOR VISITORS
 

The park was created to protect the natural environment especially the sea turtles, the coral reefs and other marine life.  There are therefore stringent rules which visitors are advised to observe.

 

Visitors are forbidden from engaging in any of the following:

 

  • Wander along the beach after dark.  The Park Ranger will inform them when there is a turtle laying eggs.

  • Build campfires, shine bright torches on the beach, sing, dance or play music on the beach at night.

  • Disturb the turtles during the nesting process by coming too close or crowding around her.  Instead, visitors are advised to watch the nesting from a distance.

  • Under any circumstances, ride on the turtle, pull her flippers, turn her over, jump on her or injure her physically.  Such acts of abuse may have adverse effects on future nesting returns.

 

Night photography is strictly forbidden on Pulau Selingan but allowed on the other two islands with permission from the Park Ranger.  Collecting any plant, animal or other living or non-living things is strictly forbidden without prior written permission from the Director of Sabah Parks.  Fishing, however, is permitted with hook and line only.

 
 
 
ACCOMMODATION
 

Although all three islands are staffed by wardens, only Pulau Selingan, the most developed, has accommodation and a visitor interpretative centre. A small restaurant serves simple meals. The number of visitors to the island is limited to only 38 per day.

 
 
 
GETTING THERE
 

 

From Sandakan Harbour, it takes about one hour by speedboat to reach the park. Make sure that you catch the 9.30am speedboat service as there is only one trip to the island daily. Alternatively, you can charter a speedboat. Local tour companies operate visits.

 
 
 
 

Turtle Islands Park

EAST MALAYSIA / BORNEO : SABAH

NATIONAL PARKS