I just came back from Long Beach, the notorious beach packed with backpackers and tourist who are looking for some beach party. Although it’s way past bedtime but what happened at Long Beach kept me awake. I felt helpless, wanted to do something so badly, yet didn’t know what to do! It felt like seeing a human being robbed and didn’t know who to ask for help!
When I passed by Beach Bar, I saw people going under two huge umbrellas. Without putting much thought, I went to Monkey Bar and were there for maybe 15 min. When I went back to Black Tip, I walked pass the umbrellas again. I did wonder what the crowd was looking at but my curiosity didn’t go far. While I was looking for a place to sit at Black Tip, the boatman came and told me there was a turtle laying eggs. I walked towards the umbrellas and saw someone digging the eggs out while the turtle was laying eggs. Even with the loud music blasting at the back, the mother turtle didn’t seem to care much! I felt I should do something but what? I wanted to call Fisheries but looking at the waves, there was no way they could make it in time. Every local there wanted a share of the turtle eggs. One woman even screamed at the other men ‘Just give me 2 eggs! I’m just asking for 2 eggs!’ The longer I watched, the more it hurt. Everyone just seemed so inhumane. Nobody cared!
My friend ushered me away as it didn’t help staying any longer. It only made most of us felt really bad about the whole thing. I felt like shit. For once, I felt so restless and I regretted not doing anything! At that time, I really had no idea what I could do! Either talking sense into the locals or fighting for the eggs but neither would be good. However, I guess it was the worst to see all the eggs being poached! When I tried to speak to the boatman to do something, he didn’t think eggs consumption will lead to the extinction of turtles and it did piss me off when he said it in a way that the turtle brought this to itself by coming to the wrong beach to lay eggs! The whole incident was so morally wrong, it really felt like watching a robbery and there was nothing I could do about it!
I wonder do human have to lose something before they learn to appreciate what they have now? Leatherback turtles are locally extinct in just less than two decades. Do we really want the same thing to happen to the other species too? It is a tradition to eat turtle eggs since centuries ago but nowadays, due to other contributing factors (all related to human), eating turtle eggs really could influence the future population. If everyone thinks that eating one egg is fine, 1000 locals would already be 1000 eggs! In a long run, that’s a lot of lives!
I never thought I would ever witness this. All this while, in all turtle projects I have been to, the beaches are protected and turtle eggs are not so easily poached. However, at Perhentian, many beaches are accessible and they are not patrolled frequently. Looking back at the incident, I believe something could have been done in the future to prevent this from happening again, at least I do hope so! In my opinion, it is purely ignorant, lack of awareness and definitely the non-willingness to stop consuming. Although the locals have been eating turtle eggs for centuries, it is always a choice and they need to start to understand that nowadays every turtle egg is a life! The consumption of turtle eggs, in their opinion, is not the main factor contributing to population decline but whether they want to believe it or not, it definitely is one of the reasons to push turtles to the brink of extinction! Leatherback turtles can be considered locally extinct and if nobody gives a shit about protecting the eggs, it’s just a matter of time that the other species will face the same faith as the leatherback!