On 23rd March, I took the opportunity to visit Selingan island, one of my favourite ecotourism products in Borneo. Departing Sandakan at 9.30am on one of our 12 passengers sea going speedboats, BET 6, the journey took 45 minutes. We arrived at Selingan island (8.1 hectares) which is one of three islands in Turtle Islands Park in the Sulu Sea, 40 km North East of Sandakan.
The island has 4 chalets with 6 rooms each (48 persons ) and a double storey reception cum restaurant on the ground floor and an Audio Visual room with Information Gallery on the first floor. The room I stayed has two twin beds, air-conditioning, fan, dressing table, bedside table, with an attached bathroom with hot water heater. A great improvement from the last time I was there. Food consisted of meat, fish and vegetables with fruits for dessert.
The best part which was the reason of my trip here was outside consisting of the hatchery. I walked on the beach around the island which took an hour to do. Beautiful and great for relaxing, reading and snorkelling. Of interest to me were the two megapode birds which I spotted running in the undergrowth. These rare ground dwelling birds the size of the chicken build their nests on the ground in huge mounds of rotting composts. Without a tripod and telephoto lens, I was unable to get clearer photos. ( I had visited this island several times in the past but this was the first time I saw these shy birds running in full view of the tourists.) But the highlight of the tour was observing the green turtles come ashore nightly to lay eggs. On this night, there were 15 nestings, with 1,146 eggs transplanted, and 172 hatchlings released. To date, there were 536 nestings in 2013 while there were 7,032 nestings for the whole of 2012. The turtle I watched this night laid 94 eggs. Thankfully the first turtle started nesting early at 9.30pm and we were able to go to bed before midnight. We wake up for an early breakfast and return to Sandakan at 7.30am in perfect calm sea.
(Note: Flash photography is not allowed which explains why some photos may be blur.) But due to limited accommodation you may need to book early to secure space especially if you travel in a group. This island is definitely one of my Top Ten Hotspots to visit in Borneo.