If you love turtles then the Gili Islands is absolutely one of the “must visit” places in the world. Gili Trawangan is best known for its contrast of bustling nightlife on one side of the islands and is palm swept tranquil beaches on the other side making it a mecca for holiday makers and backpackers alike. What many don’t know is that the island of Gili Trawangan has always carried an ethos to protect its surrounding oceans and right at the center of that is its flourishing community of turtles.
Turtles have been around for over 150 million years and spend nearly all of their time in the ocean apart from using beaches to lay their eggs. Gili Trawangan has a number of projects protecting the whole cycle from buried eggs to new hatchlings making their way back into the ocean and therefore providing a safe haven for turtles to continue their life cycle around the Gili Islands. Diving around the Gili Islands offers a virtual guarantee of seeing turtles in their natural environment and the two species that flourish are the Hawksbill Turtles and Green Sea Turtle with some divers seeing well over 20 turtles in one single dive.
The Hawksbill Turtles, although not as common as the Green Sea Turtles are in abundance around the Gili Islands are named due to the shape of their mouth which resemble a beak which is an ideal tool to access the algae it needs as its primary staple diet and along with 2 claws on each appendage allows the perfect setup to hold onto reefs, rocks and sand whilst hunting for food. The Hawksbill Turtle lives up to 50 years of age and grows to around a meter long and can be described as having slightly un even shell segments that are darker and rougher than that of the Green Sea Turtle and often incorporate barnacles and algae on its shell’s surface.
Green Turtles are by far the most common type of turtle seen around the Gili Islands and get their name from their appearance which itself is derived from their diet being mainly made up of sea grass. Green turtles are noticeably larger than the Hawksbill and live much longer. Although lifespans are not well-known Green turtles have been recorded living well over 70 Years and growing up to 1.5 meters in length’s the Green Turtle mainly relies on sea grass from its diet the mouth is rounded and blunt and has only one claw per appendage.
The Turtle Specialty Course at Big Bubble Dive Center in Gili Trawangan is designed to help student divers interact with and observe turtles in a responsible manner and report their observations in a scientifically meaningful way. Divers will learn how to measure and distinguish turtle individuals, their behaviors and what threatens turtle populations. They will also learn how to photograph turtles for identification purposes. The course is designed as a compulsory 2 dive course with a corresponding classroom knowledge session and can be done over a one- or 2-day schedule. By the end of this course student divers will need to be able to obtain and report scientifically meaningful data from their turtle encounters.
To take part in the course, students will need to have a minimum of Open Water Diver Certification and be over the age of 10. Although students must participate in the 2 Open Water Dives, there is also an option to include a confined swimming pool session so as to fine tune buoyancy skills in preparation for the dives. The confined session is recommended to anyone who has not dived in while, has not taken many dives beyond their certification or feels they may require more buoyancy training.
Another great way to spend more time underwater observing turtles is to take more PADI Courses and fun dives. One particular course that offers divers the chance to spend a lot of time under the water is the PADI Divemaster Course offered at Big Bubble Dive Center offering experience divers the chance to take the first steps in a professional diving career and also is a prerequisite for the PADI IDC Gili Islands Scuba Diving Instructor Development Course (IDC) which is also offered here in the Gili Islands.
To find out more about the PADI Turtle Specialty Diver and other programs offered at Big Bubble Dive Center contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org