Ever wanted to swim with reef sharks? Or adopt a baby turtle and release it into the ocean? A couple of weeks ago, Emma & I had an incredible day full of experiences we didn’t know were even possible around Bali! The coolest thing about it, was that taking part in these experiences actually funds the incredible work these people are doing!
We went to a shark conservation site and the turtle conservation & education centre and it was such an awesome day! We found this experience through Tinggly which is a company that sells experiences. At first we were hesitant to book an activity like this due to the animals involved but after looking into it further we realised it was all for a good cause! The shark conservation site is run by a man named Wayan, he is an Indonesian man doing his best to keep the white tip reef sharks alive in an unfortunate marketplace currently running throughout Asia.
As it is now, Indonesia is the biggest exporter of sharks, where the white tips of the shark fin are considered very valuable and since there is such a market for it, many people take advantage of the lucrative possibilities from selling the sharks for the fins. Since the white tip doesn’t grow much in size throughout the life of the shark and the younger sharks are the obvious, easier targets, they are typically caught and killed/sold, putting the species in great danger around the world. Yet today many fishermen have realised their practises are leading to extinctions, and conservation work is helping some species to recover.
Wayan’s operation runs by purchasing the sharks from the fisherman at market value and then keeping them at a somewhat secret natural site off the shore of southern Bali, near Serangan. They are fed and looked after so when they are healthy and capable of faring in deeper waters, they get released back into the ocean. What these guys are doing is incredible and the sharks are unbelievably beautiful and quite curious too!
Not only is Wyan’s program a shark sanctuary, rehabilitation centre and ultimately a release point for the shark species. But it also offers tourists the chance to swim with and feed these amazing animals, with a noble mission to educate, spread awareness and better understand the species. It was an unbelievable experience and I recommend it to everyone visiting Bali!
We also visited the turtle conservation & education centre. The Centre provides education for local schoolchildren about turtle conservation as well as training for locals on how to create turtle ornaments and souvenirs from coconut shells as opposed to turtle shells. The people who work there are so passionate about protecting nesting sea turtles and their eggs to increase hatching and release rates. They also rescue injured or sick turtles from the ocean and take them back to the centre. We saw turtles of all sizes from babies to full grown adults who have been harmed either by fishing nets, motors of boats, humans hunting them and even just sick/old turtles.
While we were there we had the option to adopt a baby turtle that had hatched in the sanctuary. The staff relocate the sea turtle eggs from the location on the beach where the turtles lay them. This is done concerning threats that endanger the eggs in their original nesting locations such as erosion, high tide, traffic of tourists, feral dogs and irresponsible human action. When the babies hatch they release them into the ocean and if you adopt one you get to go to the beach & actually personally send him off into the big blue!
We are always quite skeptical when it comes to visiting animals in different countries and there are plenty of animal attractions to avoid in Bali. But this was such a rewarding experience, learning about the amazing work these two organisations are doing to help the animals.