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Turtle Island
Turtle Island

The Turtle Islands, lying some 40 km north of Sandakan and close to the Philippines border comprises of 3 islands - Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan. It covers an area of 1,740 hectares which includes the surrounding coral reefs and sea. The Island is famous for its green and hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands. Fly to Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Three fully-furnished chalets are available on Selingan for accommodation up to a total of 20 persons per night. There is now a restaurant on Selingan where visitors can order hot meals.  At Sandakan, visitors depart by boat from the Sandakan harbour and the trip takes between 45 minutes and 3 hours depending on the speed of the boat.

Turtle Island Beach

Turtle eggs

Nesting Information

  • The green turtle and the hawksbill turtle lay their eggs at Selingan, Bakkungan Kecil and Gulisan throughout the year with the best months being from July to October.
  • They normally come ashore after 7.30 pm but have also been observed nesting between 5 to 6 in the morning.
  • The time it takes for the turtle to emerge from the sea until it conceals its eggs with sand is usually about an hour.
  • It selects and clears its nesting site and using its rear flippers, digs a pit 12 to 18 inches deep. It then lays a clutch of 40 to 190 eggs into the pit and carefully conceals it by covering it with sand before returning to the sea.
  • During the eggs laying process the eyes of the turtle are covered by a colourless mucus which prevents dehydration and to keep out sand.
Turtle Baby

Location Map

The Hatcheries

  • The eggs are collected by the Island staff and transferred to the hatcheries situated 50 feet away from the high water mark.
  • Each pit is 30 inches deep, fenced around with wire mesh and identified by a bamboo marker bearing the serial number of the nest, collection date and number of eggs.
  • After an incubation period of between 50 and 60 days, the hatchlings dig their way up to the surface of the pit, usually at night, when the sand is cooler.
  • The hatchlings are normally released in the early morning or at night from various points of the islands.

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