how you can help the sea turtles in Bali

Circuses, zoos, elephant riding, tiger petting...throughout my lifetime I've visited, paid and participated in all of the above. Sure, some as an unknowing kid. The elephants and tigers? 23-year-old Tara was a seriously naive participant who didn't do her research.

While in Bali, Indonesia, I made the quick decision not to re-do those mistakes. No riding the elephants. No visiting the monkeys at the 'sanctuary.' No drinking the coffee made from beans that have been force-fed to a cat and then keep them in cages so they can collect their...uhmm...business. None of it. 

Instead, I would try and make something on my bucket list happen. I've wanted to help the sea turtles for a while now, but haven't been in the right place at the right time-- until the other day. I saw that the Bali Sea Turtle Society Facebook had 300 newly hatched babies needing to be released into the ocean at Kuta Beach. Boom. Done. There. 

Here's how you too can interact with wildlife in a constructive way if you're in Bali...

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How it works //

Bali Sea Turtle Society's trained staff recover sea turtle eggs from the beach and bring them to the central hatchery at Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center to protect the nests and increase their likelihood of hatching. Once the nests have hatched, the babies are counted and BSTS arranges a release if there are enough healthy baby sea turtles. If there are not, the staff releases the babies without volunteer help. 

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How to be in the know // 

First, you'll need to check the Bali Sea Turtle Society Facebook page. Once the BSTS volunteers and staff check the hatchlings, they will count the babies and update their Facebook page with a time and other details for the release. 

When can you help //

The tricky part is that there is no way to plan ahead. The Facebook updates are on a day-to-day basis, as BSTS have to wait for the healthy baby sea turtles to hatch naturally {obviously}.  If this is something you really want to do, you'll have to be flexible. Instead of visiting waterfalls near my villa, I decided to head to Kuta Beach and save the waterfalls for the next day. Between June and September is 'turtle season', meaning there are lots nests hatching, increasing your chances of being in the right place at the right time. 

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How much does it cost //

Nothing! It's a free event! This isn't an animal attraction, in that you don't have to pay to see the turtles. You simply show up at the Conservation Center at the time designated on the Facebook page, queue up to get a 'token' from the staff and volunteers, and then turn in your token for a turtle. 

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How will I know what to do //

Once you get a token from the Conservation Center {for FREE}, you'll have about 15 minutes to hang out before a staff member will gather everyone up and explain how to release the baby properly and the rules for the event. The rules are simple:

1. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR BABY TURTLE! This isn't a petting zoo and it isn't a pet. 

2. Stay behind the line drawn in the sand on the beach so that the babies have room to waddle out to the tide. 

3. If your turtle is active, place your hand over the container so that it doesn't jump out. The turtle won't bite, promise. 

4. Don't use flash when taking photos of the turtles. It's a truly special sight, watching 300 baby sea turtles take off into the ocean and you'll definitely want photos, but using flash is strictly prohibited. 

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What should I bring //

You really just need a keen attitude {like the one demonstrated in the picture above ;)}, but donations are really nice too! Perhaps bringing your backpack with your reusable water bottle, sunglasses, a hat, and your camera is also a good idea.  

How else can I help //

The BSTS always welcomes donations, which can be made on their website here. You can also help by purchasing the items on their website's wishlist {like latex gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.}

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The Bali Sea Turtle Society is a really great organization. I would know. I've worked with some...less great organizations. If you're in Bali, I highly encourage you to participate in the event and help in any way that you can.