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Turtle Island Pulau Durai feat. Cool Hand Luke

You may be wondering what the title of this 1960's blockbuster could possible have to do with Pulau Durai and its status as turtle protection capital. Read on...

Typically, it takes about 20 years for sea turtles to reach sexual maturity. Most female turtles then undertake their mating, egg-laying journey, and subsequent nesting, every three years, until they're about 80 years old. Only those eggs that incubate, and only those turtle juveniles that then manage to avoid being preyed upon, then go on to mate and continue their turtle cycle of life.

As it happens, the odds are overwhelmingly against any of the eggs reaching the mature turtle stage. Nutritious and quite accessible, turtle eggs are under attack from the moment they've been laid; from monitor lizards and especially from man.

In fact, until fairly recently, the vast majority of turtle eggs in Durai never even hatched. Most of the eggs used to be collected and sold on the local markets, where they were sold as a snack.

Years of egg harvesting then took its toll; eventually, the number of eggs dwindled to about 25% of the bounty of the old days.

Enter Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, California scientist and activist. In 2009, Dr. Nichols joined the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, which visited Anambas after being invited to develop marine conservation initiatives.

Dr. Nichols wasted no time brokeraging a deal between the owners of Durai and neighboring Pulau Pahat. The deal involved an egg- harvesting cease and desist, for which the owners received financial incentives.

The agreement was subsequently backed by donors, including Premier Oil, one of the companies active in the Anambas area.

Nichols recalls: "To make the deal extra memorable, at the end of our meeting, the group of owners was served a hard boiled egg and all of us then watched the scene from Cool Hand Luke where Paul Newman successfully wins a bet by eating 50 hard boiled chicken eggs in one hour.

Since that day, thanks not least to the boundless efforts of Durai's appointed caretaker, Pak Lahani, the spirit of the agreement lives on, resulting in the Durai and Pahat turtle populations bouncing back and, ultimately reestablishing the status of both Durai and Pahat as most productive turtle-nesting islands in the region.

A great conservation success story.

Click here if you'd like to experience the turtles' nesting activities in person...