We have all seen tiny turtle hatchlings make that first perilous journey to the sea on numerous nature documentaries, but a group of travellers to the Solomon Islands witnessed this wonderful sight first hand.
Sailing through the Solomons on Heritage Expeditions’ Melanesia Discoverer expedition, the travellers and their guides stopped off at the Kerihikapa sanctuary in the Arnavon Islands. It was there that they saw the tiny hatchings emerge from the sand, with some help from the local conservation officer. In turn, the tourists helped the babies on their first journey by digging a shallow trench to the water’s edge, which the little turtles scuttled along as quickly as their flappers would take them. But even with help, the survival rate of a Hawksbill hatchling is very low as these tiny creatures are threatened by several types of predator.
The Hawksbill sea turtles, greatly valued for their meat and shells, had been almost hunted out in this part of the Pacific. It was here in the Arnavon Islands that the three communities of Katupika, Wagina and Kia came together with a commitment to protect rather than hunt these beautiful and highly endangered animals. Funded by Nature Conservancy and the provincial government, conservation officers representing the three communities take care of the nesting sites to ensure the turtles have the best chance of survival. Now, after nearly 20 years, the project has seen a 200 percent increase in the Hawksbill population.
The next Melanesia Discoverer voyage departs from Madang, Papua New Guinea on the 8th October 2014. Expedition berths start from $ 6995 USD per person.