Today I experienced one of the most magical moments in nature: the release of a newly hatched hawksbill sea turtle into the wild.
I was talking a stroll on the powder sand beaches of Pamalican Island, the most beautiful island in the Philippines, when I came across an egg floating on the surf. I initially thought it looked like a turtle’s but noticed its oblong, rather than perfectly circular shape and knew that it was the egg of a bayawak, or monitor lizard.
I nevertheless brought it to the turtle hatchery on the island, hoping to speak to a marine expert. While there, I observed the various batches of future hatchlings, noticing the expected emergence dates based upon the date the eggs were found. The island keeps the eggs in a hatchery to protect them from the bayawaks and other preying animals.
I then noticed a baby turtle who's fate looked less then grim. It looked dehydrated and burnt from the sun. My heart sank, praying that this helpless animal was alive.
To my disbelief, when I picked it up it’s little flippers started frantically flapping, almost like birds wings. I became ecstatic, running with Mr. Turtle out of the nursery, down the bank, onto the shoreline and into the ocean.
Freeing a turtle was one of the best experiences of my life, it brought me so much joy and pride. It is magical to be in touch with nature and to experience the instincts of wildlife.
Pamalican, the island named after two different Filipino words, pawikan, turtle, and balican, to always return, is true heaven on earth and is my most cherished sanctuary. Today I was able to experience the true meaning of the island: pawikan - where I witnessed the growth of the sea turtle population and balikan - where I know I will always return.