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Protecting the turtles
Pulau Gemi or Gem Island, located a few kilometres from the east coast of Malaysia, is one of the addresses one would only want to keep just for himself.
Gem Island has the merit of having understood the fragility of its environment and participates actively in the preservation of the ecosystem and in particular the preservation of endangered species such as the turtles.
Ecology right under your eyes: a hatchery protects the eggs collected on the island and a nursery has been established in order to grow and protect the baby turtles. This programme began in 2000 and has helped to collect between 2000 and 2005 eggs laid by turtles on the island. The eggs are then deposited in a protected hatchery as they may hatch after 8 and 10 weeks. Only 90% of the eggs lay baby turtles.
Rani, the programme manager, fondly watches over the eggs and collects them to place in the nursery basin. The turtles are nurtured and grow there for about 10 weeks. The baby turtles demonstrate robustness and are of a good size (about 15cm) before being released into the sea. Their primary predators are eagles, large fish, fishing boats, and pollution.
You may be lucky to accompany Rani during the full moon, if the currents are favourable, to release a turtle into the world. They will not return for 30 years and unfortunately 85% of them are unable to do so.
Each year, Gem Island Resort reintroduces into the environment around 2,000 turtles but the numbers are unfortunately diminishing more and more.
The turtles are fragile. They have long been hunted for their meat, oil and shells. Some people also collect the eggs, for their appreciated virtues especially in the Asian traditions. Humans are one of the first predators, but not the only ones. Added to the list of hazards, floating marine waste such as discarded fishing nets in which they can become trapped and drown or the plastic bags they mistake for jellyfish (one of their food sources) which cause digestive blockages.
The nesting beaches have also become important tourist attractions which unfortunately particularly disrupt reproduction.
Home to 2 beaches fringed by a coral reef, the only hotel of the island, The Gem Island Resort & Spa offers its guest’s cottages on stilts located directly on the crystal clear sea. Tastefully decorated with natural materials (wood, stone, natural cotton, batik…).
You will be able to go snorkelling or diving into the depths of the sea to discover the coral reef and kayak to the neighbouring island. However, watch your belongings as the monkeys like to steal and play with them.
The view! The watercolour you will never tire of… is the true magic of Gem Island. The light dances in every corner of the island, rock formations, giving contrast to the aquamarine water, fish, multicolour coral, parrots… you’ll feel this authentic and virgin nature all round you as it revives the spirit.
Finally, this description is not complete without mentioning the wonderful chef Zam who concocts delicious dishes (see recipes) and menus according to the catch of the day with truly Asian preparations: All Asian trends have been mastered by this chef.