Let's Visit Huyong Island, Home of the Precious Turtles
On this bright morning, we set off for ThapLamu Pier of Phang-Ngato join a very noble cause. This cause was to free the turtles back into the sea whilst enjoying the beautiful, sheltered sceneries of their home on Huyong Island. The island is a part of The Similan Islands which is under the protection of the Royal Thai Navy, 3rd area.
Lieutenant Commander NimitrChuwongse of the Royal Thai Navy- 3rdarea, was the leader of our trip. We helped him load supplies like fresh food, dried food and 85 small but healthy turtles onto Wang Nai Battleship and proceeded ahead to their new home on Huyong Island.
After four hours, we finally reached our destination. The picturesque scenery of the placid, clear water and white sandy beach was beautiful beyond imagination.
We excitedly loaded supplies and the baby turtles onto dinghy boats and soon landed on the dreamy island. It was a vision of perfection everywhere we turned. We breathed in the fresh air and mentally recorded the dream-like sceneries in our minds.
A voice calling out for help to transport the turtles to their nursery suddenly broke the trance. After the last turtle was safely in his new den, wewent around to search for a good spot to set up our tent where we would spend the night.
Next on our list was to dive into the vast, miraculous water and swim among thousands upon thousands of colorful fish. We were feeling envious of the turtles that get to live on this private island and thrive in such a beautiful environment when suddenly someone shouted, “I wish I was a turtle!”.
The naval officers cooked us a scrumptious dinner and we were thoroughly impressed by their culinary skills. Stomachs full, we took a rest on the beach and fell asleep. By the time we woke up, it was midnight and time to go for turtle watching (this is a process of observing turtles laying eggs on the beach from a distance).
Unfortunately, we did not see any turtles laying eggs that night; but the next morning, we got to witness a couple of giant turtles enjoying their mating ritual up close.
As the day progressed, the huge battleship brought in more people from different sectors for the event. Vice Admiral TharathornKajitsuwan, the third naval area commander, conducted the opening ceremony thus formally commencing the ‘Turtle-Freeing’ event for 2013.
The next activity was to dig up turtle eggs buried in designated areas by the naval officers. Digging down about 60 cm, we were excited to find tiny little hatchlings crawling out of their shells. Some would be let out into the ocean while others will be kept in the nursery for further studies and conservation.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived. Each of us brought the little turtles to the beach where they can start a whole new life. It was a moment filled with joy and laughter for everyone and we could not thank the navy enough for organizing such a beautiful event. As a bonus, Thais believe that freeing turtles will bring longevity into their lives.
The secret to freeing turtles is to let them crawl down the beach into the water by themselves. This allows them to imprint certain instinctive memories of scent and direction so that they can return to Huyong Island to lay their own eggs in the future. We found that to be a genuinely amazing and beautiful work of nature.
The last activity was to collect trash littered along the beach. Everyone chipped in and tirelessly went to work, breaking last year’s record. We all agreed that working in this beautiful environment certainly refueled strength for everyone.
Finally, it was time to say good bye to this heavenly island. We promise that we will be back again someday, just like the turtles who will surely return to lay their eggs. We love you, Hu Yong Island.