I spent a large portion of the past summer on the Indonesian island of Nusa Penida, located southeast of Bali. The primary purpose of my visit was to work at a sea turtle conservation center, but I also visited religious sites sacred to the Balinese Hindu population, participated in Balinese and Bahasa Indonesia language classes, and tried my hand at the local textile-dyeing process known as batik.
The turtle conservation center is operated by Green Lion Bali, a local volunteer coordination program, and the infrastructure dedicated to safely hatching and raising turtles was impressive. Green Lion collects the eggs that the turtles lay on the beach and purchases eggs from local fishermen, as unfortunately the turtles and their eggs are considered a delicacy by the local population. The eggs are then moved to a hatchery, mimicking their original location, and then the staff wait until they hatch. When they hatch, the juvenile turtles are moved to tanks, where they are raised to a certain size and then released. Our job as volunteers was to feed the turtles, scrub their shells of algae, clean the turtle tanks, and catch live crabs to train the turtles how to catch food in the wild.
Additionally, we worked on multiple construction projects in order to improve on the waste management infrastructure on the island.
Unfortunately, there really is not an adequate system in place, so tourists and locals alike end up littering. To remedy this, we worked on building concrete waste receptacles at a local school to educate the children regarding the importance of being mindful of the environment. Overall, the experience was amazing, and it opened my eyes to the importance of environmental conservation in developing countries.