From June 18 to July 30, 2018, I have been volunteering with a sea turtle conservation company called Green Lion in Nusa Penida, a small island of Indonesia. This company specializes in not only the rescue and rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles, specifically the Hawksbill Turtle, but also in proactive protection efforts such as beach clean ups and educating the locals on the issue.
Although Nusa Penida is an incredibly beautiful island, its beaches are unfortunately covered in trash. When sea turtles see trash on the beach, it discourages them from laying their eggs on the shore. Once that trash circulates back into the ocean, it poses an even more serious threat to sea turtles: the turtles will mistake items such as plastic bags for jellyfish and attempt to eat them. Part of my role at Green Lion was to assist in morning beach cleanups, make signs that educate the locals on the importance of proper waste disposal and the ways in which they can help out, and help to construct concrete trash and recycling bins in the local schools.
In addition to the waste disposal issue on Nusa Penida causing a threat to sea turtle population, turtles and their eggs are seen as a delicacy by the Indonesian locals and are sold in many of the street markets. Workers at Green Lion will many times purchase these eggs and bring them to their hatchery.
Fishermen partnered with Green Lion will also bring sea turtle eggs they find on the beach to the hatchery in order to prevent poachers from getting their hands on them, as well as injured sea turtles that get caught in their nets. Another one of my roles at Green Lion was to care for these rescued sea turtles. These tasks included cutting fish, catching crab on the beach, feeding and cleaning the turtles, and cleaning the turtle tanks and the surrounding facility.
Green Lion taught me the importance of conserving our earth and the animals that live on it.
Through speaking with the coordinators and hearing their personal efforts to clean up our oceans, I have committed to multiple steps myself such as participating in beach cleanups whenever I can, and committing to using only eco-friendly reusable tableware and everyday items.