Sightings of sea turtles has decreased over the years in almost everywhere but here, there’s a place for them to call home in the east coast of Malaysia.
The coastal village of Rantau Abang in Terengganu, Malaysia used to be leatherback turtles’ nesting site with turtles gathering over tens of thousands in number before extreme poaching puts a stop to it all. Turtle eggs remained as the area’s local delicacy to this day but thanks to many conservation efforts, sea turtles are slowly making a comeback in an unassuming island of Redang.
Setting a Great Start
As a lover of island escapades, I am taken aback with the crystalline shores as my boat slowly rocks on its turquoise blue waters allowing a clear view of the ocean floor. The sight is almost unnatural considering Redang is one of the popular island vacation choices in Malaysia, I went with the notion of crowded and polluted beaches. I have never been more wrong.
The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, the best-kept secret of the island, is enclosed in between two hills allowing ample private beach access for their guests. Built back in 1993, the resort has come a long way since wooden stilts jetty days and travelling for hours to the resort. Considering the tip-top condition of the surroundings, The Taaras engage a hands-on public conservation effort in the island in playing their role for a greener environment.
Slowly, the luxury resort is known for their active involvement in improving marine lives and nature through coral planting and turtle projects. The present state of the crystal-clear waters is a fruition of a decade’s labour through reefs planting from 10 years ago. This naturally allows fishes, corals and other marine animals to thrive in the scene. Such as one is the resurgence of sea turtles.
Redeeming Sea Turtles
To support the repopulation of sea turtles in Terengganu, The Taaras has employed marine biologists to observe the natural surroundings and optimize the growth of turtles. Seatru Turtle Lab in The Taaras is a scientist’s lab with in-house academics who study the turtles hatching process. It also serves as a viewing and learning gallery for guests to engage with the biologists on-board.
Lyvia and Nadhirah are both graduate research assistants who are part of the Sea Turtle Research Unit from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. It is vital for these academics to be present as Lyvia and Nadhirah show how research can help people. As bad as I am in science, these kind souls are enthusiastically warm in helping me to understand more about the endangered turtles and their hatching-release process.
Turtles watching point in Redang is only a 5 minutes boat ride away from The Taaras . There are many tame sea turtles like the Hawksbill and Green Turtle gathered at the area and I was lucky enough to swim and interact with turtles that is half as tall as me. The resort also houses a rescued Hawksbill with missing fins and right eye — named Nabil. It became their resident turtle because Nabil has lost its ability to navigate the waters and survive in the sea.
Coincidentally, the nesting season for turtles is from April till October so once the eggs are safely hatched in lab, guests can even participate in the baby turtles release event at The Taaras ’ private beach. It is rewarding and sad at the same time to see these baby sea turtles venturing out to the ocean alone knowing that they only have 1% of survival rate to maturity.
By doing everything they can to save these endangered turtles, The Taaras is equipped in spirit and strength to regrow sea turtles’ population with their guests and revitalize Redang as a beautiful eternal home for these creatures.
The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort
Kampong Ulu Redang, Terengganu, Malaysia
+ 60 (9) 630 8888
From now onwards, The Taaras has daily flights from Subang Airport directly to Redang Airport in their private ATR aircraft.