Near Segari, not far from Pulau Pangkor is a turtle farm: Pusat Penetasan Penyu. Turtles in Malaysia are still reasonable common. That is to say, they are still to be found in the wild. There are two kinds of turtles in Malaysia: land and marine turtles. I have seen them when diving at Pulau Sembilan, not far from the Turtle Management Center. That said, turtles are in danger. And stations like this are essential in protecting this amazing and ancient animal.
The farm in Segari is specialized in marine turtles. There are 7 species of Marine turtles in the world. 4 of them lay their eggs on the Malaysian beaches. These are: the leaderback turtles, hawksbill turtle, olive ridley turtle and the green turtle.
Pasir Panjang Beach near Segari is the main breeding ground for these turtles in Perak. Since turtles are an endangered species, the Malaysian Department of Fisheries have set up a project to help the turtles to survive the threats of extinction. This excellent initiative all started in 1990.
There are quite a few dangers in the life of the turtles apart of the natural ones. Fishing is one of the dangers, spoiled oil and rubbish in the sea is another one. Turtle eggs are still delicacy for many people who do not care the value of a living endangered species.
Saving a turtle
Talk about nets. As you reader maybe know, I do some diving at Pulau Sembilan. It's a beautiful place for diving. Once in a while you see marine turtles in the water. During one of our dives, we found a new lost fishing net with a turtle trapped in it. The net was probably lost by the fishermen but it was not yet absorbed by the the sea environment.
Inside the net were a marine turtle and a crab. We took the opportunity to free both of them. No camera was available so I can't show you what it looked like. But one thing I can assure you, it was a good feeling to free these two trapped animals.
The work of the Turtle Breeding Station
Although turtles in Malaysia live in the open sea, they need to go back to land to lay their eggs. Turtles are great travelers. Nesting beaches can be hundred, if a thousands kilometers away from the feeding grounds. Male turtles spend their whole live at sea while the females come to land to lay eggs. An average female nests about 4 to 6 times during the nesting season though some nest only once or 10 times. Normally the females do nest every other year.
A nest contains 100 to 200 eggs, with the size of a ping pong ball. Nesting always occur at night. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the young turtles. If the temperature is below 25ºC more males will be born the females. If the temperature is above 25ºC more females will be born.
Marine turtles are an endangered species. For that reason, the Malaysian Department of Fisheries has decided to help the turtles survive. During the breeding season of the turtles workers of the Turtle farm dig up the eggs of the turtles. The nest are easy to find since the female turtle leaves a clear trail. The eggs are breed until the young turtles are old enough to find themselves a way back into the Straits of Malacca.
And if you're lucky, like me, you will find grown up turtles in the waters of Pulau Sembilan when you are diving. The sight of a full grown turtle in it's natural environment is something you never forget. Thanks to the Turtle Breeding Station there is hope for turtles in Malaysia to have a better future.
The Turtle Breeding Station is daily open, roughly from 10 to 5 with a lunch break between 12 and 2 pm.
Visit the Turtle Farm
What can you see at the Turtle Farm? The farm has several basins with different aged young turtles, who, when they're big enough will be brought back to the sea. Some other basins have larger turtles for exposure reasons. Here you meet these big friendly creatures, even touch them. The full grown turtles here will not go back in the wild. They live their lives to make people aware of the beauty of their species.
There's no public transport to the Turtle Farm. By car (or taxi), take the road from Lumut to Taiping. Pass Segari (about 25 km from Lumut). A few kilometers after Segari there's a junction to the Lumut Power plant. Follow this road for a few kilometers until you see an asphalt road going left.
This little road will end at Pasir Panjang Beach where the Turtle Breeding Station is located. It's a highly recommended half day trip. And besides, the beach here is awesome too. Bring some snacks and drinks. There are pick nick tables in the shadow at the beach. It's one of the rare occasions you can see many different types of turtles in Malaysia, in all sorts, and in all sizes.
Check out the map of Greater Lumut to find out how to reach the Turtles Breeding Station. It's the second map on the page.