Every night on the beach of Pulau Selingaan in Sabah, whatever the weather, park rangers get down on their hands and knees. All night they hunt for eggs laid by giant marine turtles in their sand-pit nests, not to steal them, but to transfer them to a hatchery not far from the beach.
During the night, at high tide, green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turŽtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) shuffle their way up the beach to dig a nest and lay their eggs. The process of selecting a nestŽing place, excavating the pit, laying the eggs and covering the nest takes about three hours. The rangers watch and wait in the darkness. When the turtle has finŽished, the rangers go to work, collecting eggs, transplanting them to the hatchery and tagging the turtles.
Two months later, the hatchery keepŽers must watch out for movements in the sand indicating that turtle hatchlings are emerging. The rangers collect the hatchlings immediately and hurry to release them on the beach, as the turtles homing device which brings them back to their birthplace to lay eggs is activated at birth. Each year, the rangers release an average of 500,000 to 750,000 hatchlings.
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