Jun 3, 2015

Farewell turtle hatchlings!

We are excited to announce that the first relocated turtle nest  hatched two weeks ago. We have waited long enough to ensure all viable and healthy hatchlings crawled out of the nest before we dug up the remains of the nest to determine the hatching success rate. The count we got was as high as 75% ! Of course our hope for the future is to see the reproduction cycle completed when some of them will hopefully return to Alor and lay their own eggs.

Photo from Alor Divers beach front: 

From the photos we have found on the web we have identified the species of hatchlings as  Loggerhead turtle.

The picture below shows four different types of sea turtle hatchlings ;              L to R: Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Leatherback.

If you are interested to find out a bit more on turtle hatching, please continue to read...

(following is the excerpt from the website seeturtles.org)

Watching a baby turtle struggle out of the nest and make its way to the water is an emotional experience. Every little bump between the nest and the see can be an obstacle. Birds, crabs and fish are just a few of the predators these vulnerable creatures face. Some experts say only one out of a thousand will survive to adulthood under natural conditions.

After an adult female sea turtle nests, she returns to the sea, leaving her nest and the eggs within it to develop on their own. The amount of time the egg takes to hatch varies among the different species and is influenced by environmental conditions such as the temperature of the sand. The hatchlings do not have sex chromosomes so their gender is determined by the temperature within the nest. 

The Pivotal Temperature of a Baby Turtle

Whether hatchlings are male or female depends on the temperature where they are in the nest, known as the “pivotal temperature." The temperature varies slightly among species, ranging between roughly 83-85 degrees Fahrenheit (28-29 degrees Celsius), at which embryos within a nest develop into a mix of males and females. Temperatures above this range produce females and colder temperatures produce males. After 45 to 70 days (depending on the species), the hatchlings begin to pip, or break out of their eggs, using a small temporary tooth located on their snout called a caruncle. Once out of their eggs, they will remain in the nest for a number of days. During this time they will absorb their yolk, which is attached by an umbilical to their abdomen. This yolk will provide them the much-needed energy for their first few days while they make their way from the nest to offshore waters. 

The hatchlings begin their climb out of the nest in a coordinated effort. Once near the surface, they will often remain there until the temperature of the sand cools, usually indicating nighttime, when they are less likely to be eaten by predators or overheat. Once the baby turtles emerge from the nest, they use cues to find the water including the slope of the beach, the white crests of the waves, and the natural light of the ocean horizon. 
If the hatchlings successfully make it down the beach and reach the surf, they begin what is called a “swimming frenzy” which may last for several days and varies in intensity and duration among species. The swimming frenzy gets the hatchlings away from dangerous nearshore waters where predation is high. Once hatchlings enter the water, their "lost years" begin and their whereabouts will be unknown for as long as a decade. When they have reached approximately the size of a dinner plate, the juvenile turtles will return to coastal areas where they will forage and continue to mature.

Did You Know These Baby Sea Turtle Facts?
  • It's estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
  • Sea turtle hatchlings eat a variety of prey including things like molluscs and crustaceans, hydrozoans, sargassum sea weed, jellyfish, and fish eggs. Unfortunately, hatchlings also mistake garbage and objects like tar balls as food and ingest them.
  • Leatherbach and flatback hatchlings are significantly larger than other sea turtle species.
  • Leatherbacks are pelagic (open water) even as hatchlings and their larger size helps maintain their temperature. 
  • Hatchlings use the natural light horizon, which is usually over the ocean, along with the white crests of the waves to reach the water when they emerge from the nest. Any other light sources such as beachfront lighting, street lights, light from cars, campfires etc. can lead hatchlings in the wrong direction, also known as disorientation. 
  • Once out of the nest, hatchlings face many predators including ghost crabs, birds, raccoons, dogs, and fish.
  • Many scientists are concerned that rising global temperatures will result in warmer sand, causing more female than male baby turtles.

Apr 19, 2015

We are off to a fantastic start with the diving this year !

From the boat alone, we have already had numerous sightings of Mola-mola, one Hammerhead lazily swimming on the surface and even a huge manta passing right beneath our divers during a surface interval, not to forget the usual pods of dolphins making an almost daily appearance.
But of course most of the action has been happening under the waves…
Current Alley is as exciting as ever; with all sorts of reef sharks patrolling the reef, accompanied by big tunas, Spanish Mackerel and Jacks swimming around intimidating the balls of fish.  Groups of Eagle and Mobula rays calmly swimming along the wall while Stingrays queue up in line at the cleaning stations.  Batfish, barracuda, bump-heads and turtles dotted around the reef have been a common in the shallows. Our other dive sites haven’t disappointed, offering occasional Shark and Ray encounters at Rumah Biru and Cathedral; Wobbegongs in the world-famous Anemone fields on Pura Island; and we also found the new favorite sleeping place of a big white tip reef shark.

As for the small stuff…  Our newest muck-diving spot, located under a newly built jetty, just gets better each time we visit. Just recently we have counted 10 leaf fish on the dive site! Coral and hydroids growing around jetty pillars offer a nursery to baby-Batfish and on the bottom the octopus seem to have found the perfect spot to build their houses.  The sandy areas have been hosting rare sighting such us Emperor Shrimps, Zebra crabs, and even a tiny Bumble-bee shrimp. Not to forget more of the Ghost-pipefish than you can shake a stick at. In other muck dive spots we broke some records: 4 Rhinopious in one dive; 6 sea horses in another; 5 ornate ghost pipefish together in one pinnacle; as well as 5 new frogfish and 2 blue-ring octopus spotted in less than one month ;-)
Lastly we have to mention the house reef – as spectacular as ever. The challenge will be for you to find all the lobsters, the resident turtle, and if you are a good spotter maybe the new tiny seahorse or the Halimeda Ghost-pipefish…
But don’t take our word for it - come and see for yourself !!!

Apr 3, 2015

Turtle conservation in Alor

In the world there are seven sea turtle species, six of which live in Indonesia: Green turtle (see a photo at the bottom) , Hawksbill turtle, olive ridley, leatherback turtle, flatback turtle and loggerhead sea turtle. The leatherback sea turtle is the largest (up to 2.75 meters length and 600 - 900 kilograms weight! ) and the olive ridley is the smallest, weighing around 50 kilograms.

All sea turtles in Indonesia have been protected by law according to the Government Regulation number 7 year 1999 concerning the Preservation of Plant and Wildlife. This means that the trade of sea turtle, both in alive and dead condition and also the trade of the by products is illegal. The use of protected wildlife is allowed for the purposes of research, science, and rescue of the wildlife itself. According to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna), all sea turtles are listed in the Appendix I, meaning that the international trade of the species for commercial purpose is prohibited. IUCN ( International Union for Conservation of Nature) also enlists the hawksbill turtle as critically endangered. The green turtle, olive ridley, loggerhead sea turtle are categorized as threatened. The threat of sea turtles is the trade of the species and the by products like the meat, eggs, and the body parts. The species which is mostly traded is the green turtle and it still takes place in Indonesia. 

When we talk to older Alorese people about turtle situation many years ago, they remember the abundance of turtles in Pantar Strait. Now days seeing a turtle is a rare delight. What happened it between, we ask? Nothing new or surprising - fishermen form other parts of Indonesia (name Bali pops up a lot) were frequenting the area, catching turtles (and other sea critters for that matter) for the infamous turtle trade. That plus the fact that turtle eggs and meat soothes the palate of Alorese as well is a reason for dramatic decline of turtles in the area.

It was during our first year in Alor that we witnessed baby turtles hatching just in front of the resort and it was also during that time that we had to rescue mama turtle hidden in the bush (on our location), tied up, waiting to become a stew.

Since then  it happened only few times that we heard of a turtle coming to our beach, laying eggs only to be taken away by villagers the moment they hit the sand. Last year was one of those moments and we were again too late to protect what obviously needs to be protected. This year we finally had luck! Thanks to Alor Divers staff -who are aware of our efforts for protecting the environment- we spotted a Green turtle laying eggs before anyone else could get a hand on her or her eggs. We waited patiently until last egg was in the nest and mama turtle returned safely back to Savu Sea. In our failed efforts to cover her tracks to the nest, we decided to move the eggs to a new location. This was the best decision since nighttime fishermen were on the sea and there was a huge probability they would [once again] get to the original nest. Ben and Bea (dive masters who are helping us with managing Alor Divers) read quite a lot on the topic of turtle conservation and knew exactly how to transfer eggs without jeopardizing their hatching success rate. Now 99 green turtle eggs are hiding in a secret place. All we can do is wait and see....

Here is the  photo of Green turtle laying eggs in front of Alor Divers Eco Resort. She is  in the "trans" that comes after strenuous efforts of climbing up the beach and digging a nest for her babies.

Apr 1, 2015

Online (pre)payment with Visa card now possible for Alor Divers

We are pleased to announce that since recently Alor Divers accepts payments by Visa card. This is not a payment via physical credit card terminal and therefore cannot be effectuated in Alor. This is secure online payment gateway that can be used for deposit/balance payments prior to arrival in Alor. Once in Alor the only payment option is cash.

The ease and convenience of paying with Visa is undeniable, it offers security and reliability.  Not all benefits apply to all cards and additional benefits may be available through your card issuer. Be sure to check out exactly what your Visa card insurance covers!

Mar 11, 2015

New resort in Alor !

2015 is an exciting new season for diving in Alor! 

10 years ago, when we (Gilles and Neya) decided to settle in Alor we were hesitating between few locations in Pantar Strait. Finally the opportunity of living on a remote sandy beach with preserved house reef looked like a perfect fit for what we wanted professionally and personally. We settled in Pantar, built Alor Divers and gave life to our beautiful girls Maliana and Lyvie. Our little corner flourished as Alor region in general got increasing number of visitor and divers with each passing year. Furthermore  muck diving became very popular in a diving world and Alor has some great muck to offer.  We saw an opportunity and started to play with the idea of building an additional resort on a different location in Alor. It eventually became clear to us we couldn’t to do it on our own if we wanted to offer personalized and professional service we give at Alor Divers. We looked for partners for a new “adventure” and  decided together with our friends Max and Lauren for a partnership  in setting up a new resort in Kalabahi Bay near great muck diving sites. 

Creating Alami Alor Dive Resort took over a year of joined efforts and we are happy to announce that it will be open for guests starting 5 April, 2015! While we (Gilles and Neya) contributed our experience of working, living and diving in Alor, Max and Lauren did excellent work with designing and constructing the new resort. They are also resort managers and will take care of everything above and below sea level to ensure Alami Alor’s guests have a memorable stay!

Between Alor Divers located in the strait and Alami Alor in the bay, there is a choice of accommodation and diving experiences to suite a variety of expectations for a dive holiday in the Alor Archipelago. Even though the resorts are two separated establishments, we would like to offer for 2015 a special promotional discount for a combination package at the 2 resorts. Book a 6 night package at Alor Divers plus a 6 night package at the new Alami Alor Dive Resort and receive 10% discount on both stays plus 1 extra night free for a total of 13 nights in Alor.  

Contact us for more details at info@alor-divers.com or alordivers@gmail.com .