One of Meru Betiri National Park jewel is the Sukamade Turtle Conservation. Located on the west of Banyuwangi, this place has an experience to offer. It is a natural, quiet, beautiful place and part of the 50,000 hectare Meru Betiri National Park. The Meru Betiri National Park officially came into being in 1982 but Sukamade has had turtle conservation facility since 1972. Since then, nearly 3,000 turtles have been tagged here.
Almost every night of the year, turtles appear on Sukamade beach to lay eggs. It is clearly a globally important site and one which is protected 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by the over-worked park rangers. Some eggs are taken by the rangers to protect them from predators, both human and other animals. These are incubated in the safety of the park hatchery and the youngsters are released to the ocean on the very beach from where the eggs were laid. There are similar beaches within the park boundary but it seems to be Sukamade that the turtles prefer. The stability of the turtle population has been helped by a careful system of tagging and monitoring, as well as the use of the special hatcheries.
The ranger will give you chance to release the baby turtles back to the sea only by giving donation to the conservation. When the babies crawl their way to the ocean, they will map the area to come back and lay eggs when their time comes. You can also peek on how the turtle come at night to lay eggs. The whole process take about 1-2 hour from the moment it dig a deep hole to bury the eggs. One turtle can lay hundred of eggs.
Getting here is also another fun experience. Being inside a deep jungle, we will ride a trooper through the rainforest and rivers. On our way, stop by the beautiful Green Bay Beach, a hidden treasure with soft-white-sand and clear water as green as its name.
The female turtles usually start landing at 7:30 PM and return to the sea at 12:00PM. November to March is the peak season for laying eggs. But almost everyday of the year, there are turtles coming to lay eggs.
Tropical and not noticeably different from elsewhere in Java. It rains a lot from December through March when the rivers (which are always difficult to cross) may prove to be impassable and the way in very difficult to negotiate.
From Banyuwangi city, you will ride the trooper through the rainforest of Meru Betiri National Park for couple hours. There are some beaches on the way for you to visit. Green Bay Beach is one of the must visit.
One you arrived, beach is only 5 minutes walk away from the guesthouse and it is marvelous, long sandy beach and beautiful waves 24 hours. You can visit the hatchery to see the eggs and turtles that will be released into the sea. Turtle watching begins around 8 pm – 10 pm. The guide will bring you to the beach where all must then turn off all lights and remain silent. While waiting, take a look at the sky, the stars are bright and beautiful. When the rangers spotted egg laying turtle, all must hurry to the part of the beach where the turtle has been spotted.
Depending on where is the turtle, this can involve walking 1 miles on sandy beach in darkness with only moon light and starlight (no torch lights allowed). On reaching the site, all were told not to stand in front of the turtle (only behind and at the side of her). No flash light photography and the ranger will only shine light from behind the turtle. In the morning, all are invited to witness o releasing of hatched turtles from the hatcheries into sea.
Basic meals are available, but not such a bad thing to bring some food in with you. Food is included in package when you stay in the Guesthouse. Dinner, Lunch and Breakfast are served in the restaurant. Despite an impressive menu, only Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) is served regardless of what you have ordered. This is understandable because the nearest town is 4-hours drive away.
Positive attitude at all times
Stay calm and move slowly
Minimize use a flashlight, you should use red light and should not be directed straight to the turtle
Do not approach a turtle that had just landed, because the turtle can be scared and back to sea.
Don’t take picture with flash, because the light will make the turtle blind for a moment
Bring some food, mosquito repellent and raincoat on rainy season
No signal / network available
Only humble homestay available. And when its full, we have to camp. (no booking)
Watching these giant creatures emerge from the surf and struggle-up the beach to lay their eggs on a moonlit night is a unique and unforgettable experience, and one which is certain to ensure Sukamade’s ever-growing profile. This is certainly off the beaten track and requires some effort to reach but it is very worthwhile indeed.
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