There’s only one way to describe a weekend filled with fun activities including a visit to a turtle conservation centre, a bath bomb workshop, not to mention all-you-can-eat buffets: TURTLE-Y AWESOME!
The trip, hosted by LUSH Malaysia and Club Med Cherating Beach, was to highlight the plight of turtles and other sea creatures. All the heart-breaking videos and pictures circulating the social media that show turtles getting tangled in straws and other plastic junk polluting the ocean serve to remind us that the struggle is real. And we as human beings are going to have to do whatever we can, however small, to help fix this.
Here’s what I learned from the turtley awesome beach weekend:
Cherating Is Not Only Beautiful, It’s Also Pretty Chill
Located on Peninsula Malaysia’s east coast, Cherating is just an hour’s drive from Kuantan and a little over three hours from Kuala Lumpur. Surfers flock to this beach town with their boards while tourists would not miss the chance to go on a night river cruise to watch glowing fireflies in the dark. Families with kids enjoy the laidback yet beautiful ambiance of Cherating, not to mention the wide, scenic beaches it is famous for. Locals would fondly associate it with Club Med, as it was the first ever in Asia when it started operating there in 1980.
Roughly 300 Turtles Come to Lay Eggs in Cherating Annually
While the numbers have greatly dwindled (used to be thousands in the 1950s), the shores of Malaysia are still pretty popular for turtles come up and lay eggs. Four out of the seven known turtle species in the world are native here (native is a relative term here since turtles are natural-born explorers) which are leatherback, olive-ridley, green and hawksbill.
In Cherating, all turtles that come ashore are observed by the folks from the Cherating Turtle Sanctuary, a non-profit centre managed by the Malaysian Fisheries Department to monitor, study and protect the turtles. Located just a few minutes’ walk from Club Med Cherating Beach, the centre is a good place to educate ourselves as well as our children on the plight of these sea creatures. Admission is free but they close on Mondays.
SEE ALSO: A Date with Turtles at Tanjong Jara
The Planet Might Not Have Turtles Again If Humans Don’t Change
As one of the very few animal species that have existed at the same time with dinosaurs, sea turtles are not just precious, they are an important planetary heritage. The turtles’ history of evolution goes as far back as a whopping 260 million years, which explains why turtles are so cool and chill out. They’ve probably have seen it all.
So how come there are fewer turtles on the planet now? We only have ourselves to blame. Major reasons for this include habitat destruction because of marine pollution, accidental capture in fishing nets, as well as the selling and buying of turtle eggs for human consumption. Hence efforts to educate the public, especially the younger generation, is crucial so that every individual can help make a difference.
SEE ALSO: Turtle Tales in Lang Tengah
Every Small Effort, No Matter How Small, Counts
So yeah, humans alone have been responsible for the decline and extinction of many precious animal species and it would probably take some huge miracle to reverse the impact of our doings. But that does not mean that we should give up hope and continue living our sinful ways. There are many small ways each individual can do to help lessen the damage. Opt for no plastic straws when ordering a drink (bring your own reusable metal or paper straws) and reduce the amount of plastic wastage (bring your own bag for grocery shopping, say no to plastic when ordering takeout).
Taking it one step further is to use organic or biodegradable products that won’t pollute the ocean (shower gels or shampoos with micro beads are huge NO-NOs). Go for eco-friendly brands like Lush, which even has a product amongst their famed bath bomb line called the Turtle Jelly Bomb. Once put into bath water, the special edition bomb dissolves little agar-agar strands within teal green water, to replicate what it’s like to swim alongside plastic junks polluting the ocean like what the turtles are exposed to. So you can enjoy a relaxing bath whilst coming up with your own methods to create change.
Nature Is Our Playground Where It’s Possible for All to Co-exist in Harmony
Fact is, we are currently living in a world where excesses of the human way of living are directly impacting our planet’s delicate ecosystem. It’s time that we take a stand against our own ignorance and choose to live sustainably. If we want to make the world a better place, we ourselves need to change our ways, starting with this mantra – “Waste not, want not”.
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