Over the past week ahead of the country’s 55th birthday celebrations, over 180 critically endangered Hawksbill turtles were hatched in two different locations in Singapore, and were carefully guided back into the sea.
A batch of 41 hatchlings was first found on Pulau Satumu, Raffles Lighthouse Island on 6 August. Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) lighthouse keepers had been watching over the turtle’s nest and worked closely with NParks staff over the past few months to ensure the eggs reach maturity.
Along with a team from the National Biodiversity Centre, Raffles Lighthouse keepers carefully guided the hatchlings towards the sea.
The second batch of 146 little hatchlings made their way back to the sea across two nights, 7 and 8 August, at East Coast Park.
A female Hawksbill turtle was spotted on 23 May, coincidentally on World Turtle Day, at East Coast Park laying a batch of eggs. Another female was seen on 2 July but eventually left without laying eggs.
Hawksbills have declined in numbers by over 80% over the last century. They are hunted for their beautiful shells, commonly used in jewellery, and are drove nearly into extinction. Hawksbills hatchlings have also been sold illegally on the black market as aquarium pets.
Despite being one of the busiest ports and straits globally, Singapore has a rich marine environment that sees these critically endangered Hawksbill turtles coming to our shores to lay eggs. Females make the journey back to the beaches where they were born to nest every two to five years.
If you chance upon a nesting turtle in Singapore, NParks recommends the public to call 1800-4717300 to inform them. Other recommendations include keeping a distance from the turtle and the eggs, refrain from touching the turtle and the eggs, keep clear of tracks left by the turtle, and no flash photography allowed.