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About Turtles


As the large Green Turtles as they lumber ashore, they will select an area and dig a 12 to 18 inch deep egg chamber with their powerful hind flippers and lays between 40 to 190 eggs, covering them with sand before returning to sea.


Once the eggs have been laid, the eggs are removed by the Park Staff for incubation.  This is to ensure that wild predators, such as the monitor lizards, do not get to the eggs.


A hatchery has been established on each of the three islands.  These hatcheries are situated 50 feet away from the high water mark.   In the hatchery itself, eggs are carefully placed by hand into a pit of 30 inches deep, fenced around with wire mesh and identified by a bamboo marker bearing with serial number of the nest, collection date and number of eggs.   These hatchlings will then have to fend for them until they are mature enough to mate and return back to the Turtle Islands.



An incubation period which takes between 50 and 60 days, the young will emerge to the surface by digging their way up to the surface of the pit.  This happens usually at night, when the sand is cooler.  Usually, these hatchlings are released in the early morning to prevent from being exposed to predators at night while making their journey.  But once in the sea, they will be exposed to numerous dangers including being eaten by bigger fish as well as birds. Fatalities can also occur when they encounter plastic bags or mistake tiny hardened balls of oil for food.


The sea turtle is a reptile, which spends all of its life in water. Only the female turtle returns to land to lay its eggs. All sea turtle eat marine animals such as sponges, marine worms and mollusks except adult green turtle, which are largely vegetarian, eating underwater grasses and seaweed. The Hawksbill turtle is carnivorous and eats invertebrate animals of the coral reefs. We do not know the natural longevity of the sea turtles. They grow very slowly, taking from 10 to 20 years to reach maturity. 


Nesting Behaviours


Turtle egg-laying is a complex process divided into eight stages, they are:-


1.   Emerging from the sea, selecting a course to a beach


2.   Selecting a nesting area above the high-tide mark


      3.  Clearing the area with sweeping motions of the front and enclave into the body pit.   Excavating the eggs chamber with rear flippers to a depth of about 12 to 18 inches.


5.   After the completion of eggs pit, there is a interval before they proceeds to lay eggs.


      6.  When all the eggs have been laid, they then proceed to cover and conceal the nest pit. The turtle will return to sea and whole process normally takes about an hour.



Dos and Don’ts


Visitors are forbidden from engaging in any of the following:


  • Wander along the beach after dark. (Park Ranger will inform the guides when/where there is turtle laying eggs)

  • Build campfires, shine bright torches on the beach at night or on the nesting turtle, as strong light will cause harm to the turtles.

  • Disturb the turtle during the nesting process by approaching too close or crowding around her. Instead, visitors are advised to watch the nesting from a distance.

  • Under no circumstances, ride on the turtle, pull her flippers, turn over turtle, jump on her or injure her physically. Such acts of abuse may have adverse effects on future nesting returns.

  • Night photography is strictly forbidden on Pulau Selingan but allowed on the other two islands with permission from the Park Ranger.

  • Collecting any plant, animal or other living or non-living things is strictly forbidden without prior written permission from the Director of Sabah Parks. Fishing is permitted with hook and line only.


Best time to Visit


The best time to visit this island is between March and September, which are the driest month and the calmest sea.  It is not a good idea to visit this between October and February as during this time the island receives the brunt of the north-eastern monsoon gales.



Getting there


You can take a boat to Pulau Selingan from Sandakan town.  Public boat services are not available here.  You need to go through the Parks office or alternatively arrange visit through tour operators.  Permits are compulsory.


Sabah Parks

P.O. Box 10626, 88806 Kota Kinabalu

Tel: 088-211811, 212508 Fax: 088-221001, 211585


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