Endangered turtle's eggs at beach moved to safer area

National Parks Board staff and volunteers taking photos of a hawksbill turtle laying eggs at a beach in East Coast Park. The pregnant turtle was spotted at the beach by a member of the public on Wednesday evening. The reptile started laying eggs at a
National Parks Board staff and volunteers taking photos of a hawksbill turtle laying eggs at a beach in East Coast Park. The pregnant turtle was spotted at the beach by a member of the public on Wednesday evening. The reptile started laying eggs at about 8.40pm, and was back in the water at about 10pm.ST PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN
NParks staff member Collin Tong (in white) and his colleagues taking measurements of the hawksbill turtle, and (below) staff clearing sand off the back of the turtle to check its shell pattern on Wednesday. The turtle's 141 eggs have been moved to a
NParks staff member Collin Tong (in white) and his colleagues taking measurements of the hawksbill turtle (above), and staff clearing sand off the back of the turtle to check its shell pattern on Wednesday. The turtle's 141 eggs have been moved to a safer location with less foot traffic and low light pollution.ST PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN
National Parks Board staff and volunteers taking photos of a hawksbill turtle laying eggs at a beach in East Coast Park. The pregnant turtle was spotted at the beach by a member of the public on Wednesday evening. The reptile started laying eggs at a
NParks staff member Collin Tong and his colleagues taking measurements of the hawksbill turtle, and (above) staff clearing sand off the back of the turtle to check its shell pattern on Wednesday. The turtle’s 141 eggs have been moved to a safer location with less foot traffic and low light pollution.ST PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN

A clutch of 141 eggs that were laid by a critically endangered hawksbill turtle at a beach along East Coast Park on Wednesday night has been moved to a safer location with less foot traffic and low light pollution.

The National Parks Board (NParks) told The Straits Times that the decision was made to move the eggs as the original site posed a high risk to the nest.

"Based on factors such as the proximity to the shore, the amount of light pollution and foot traffic, NParks assessed that the site posed a high risk to the nest," said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine branch at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

"Following best turtle management practices, we have translocated the 141 eggs to a more suitable spot with less foot traffic and low light pollution. We will continue to monitor the eggs closely," she added.

The locations of the original and new sites are being kept under wraps to prevent disturbances.

According to the National Geographic, hawksbill turtle eggs usually hatch in about 60 days.

While sightings of freshly hatched turtle hatchlings have been regularly reported, it is rare to see a turtle laying eggs in Singapore.

The pregnant turtle was spotted making landfall at a beach in East Coast Park by a member of the public on Wednesday evening.

NParks was alerted and its officers were on the scene within half an hour, to monitor and document the process for research and data collection purposes.

 
 

The reptile started laying eggs at about 8.40pm, and was back in the water at about 10pm.

Following an online report by The Straits Times on the sighting, members of the public raised concerns about whether the lights used in the process could harm the turtle.

Dr Tun clarified that the site was kept dark and quiet while the turtle was trying to find a suitable area to dig the hole. "Once the turtle started laying its eggs, lights were used, from the back, to monitor the egg-laying process and for data collection purposes. NParks was careful to avoid directing the light at the turtle's face to minimise disturbance to it," she added.

NParks scientists were seen supervising the use of lights, and ensuring that all observers kept their distance when The Straits Times was there on Wednesday night.

The scientists had a stint in the Mon Repos Turtle Centre - an established institute on turtle ecology in Australia - earlier this year to learn more about turtle management.

They also took photographs of the turtle and a number of other measurements, such as the width of its trail and the length of the shell. The researchers also made observations about the turtle's entry and exit points.

Members of the public are reminded to contact the NParks helpline (1800-471-7300) and to keep their distance and speak softly when a turtle is sighted. Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. People should also not handle the eggs as this might damage them.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Endangered turtle's eggs at beach moved to safer area'. Print Edition | Subscribe