Authentic Sumatra Turtle Project: How adorable are baby turtles!


The Authentic Sumatra Turtle Project is located on an incredibly secluded (aka challenging to reach) section of Western Sumatra.  Bordering the idyllic Indian Ocean, we spent a week there this summer getting to know the people and the village of Nagari Sungai Pinang. Here’s how you can visit and spend time with these adorable turtles and maybe release some too.

Sumatra Turtle Project
Zach cleaning a baby turtle

What’s Authentic Sumatra Turtle Project all about?

The project was formed in March 2016 to save the turtle population around the fishing village of Nagari Sungai Pinang. Its main aim is to increase awareness of ecological matters amongst the local people.

In Sumatra sea turtles are in danger of extinction. This is due to plastic in the ocean, being over-fished, eaten by the local population, getting caught in fishing nets and losing their breeding spots to human development.

For three weeks of every month, the local bays are filled with these boats nicknamed ‘The Pirates’ because they steal everything out of the oceans. it is unsustainable and the oceans will not be able to recover.
Sumatra turtle project
The turtle home

What does the Sumatra turtle program do?

The turtle program focuses on rescuing injured turtles, finding and hatching turtle eggs, protecting newly born turtles around the fishing village and contributing to different aspects of marine conservation.

Baby turtles in old baths
Sumatra Turtle Project
Imogen holding a turtle

Do you want to Volunteer?

If you’re looking for an ecological volunteer program, The Sumatran Sea Turtle Project offers the opportunity for volunteers to participate in conservation related projects. Stuff like researching and monitoring turtle nests, education and outreach, as well as turtle rehabilitation.

As a volunteer you can participate in daily activities such as feeding and cleaning the turtles, beach patrols, nest excavations, poaching surveys, mangrove seedling collection and replanting, GPS mapping, beach surveys, beach clean-ups, movement pattern research of turtles, replanting coral reefs and teaching recycling and environmental classes (in English) to the local kids.

Zach cleaning a turtle
Kids in a local school we visited
Sumatra Turtle Project
One of the neighbouring schools

What might you do as a volunteer with the Sumatra Turtle Project

As well as contributing to the improvement of the local ecology and learning about marine conservation, volunteers get the chance to experience local life in a small Sumatran village, meet local people and travellers from all over the world whilst staying in a small, remote beach paradise.

Sumatra Turtle Project
An injured turtle recuperating

What if you can’t volunteer?

Even if you can’t volunteer, you can still visit the village and the turtles and leave a donation. You’ll need to contact Ricky to arrange a visit to see the turtles.

If you want to stay in the village, you can book at Ricky’s Beach House. Being a part of such a welcoming community was the highlight of our Sumatra trip and seeing the turtles was an extraordinary experience for all of us.

It’s an experience that our kids will never forget and talk about frequently. Because of the turtles, we stopped using straws in our drinks and have started to combat the amount of plastic we consume.

Sumatra Turtle Project
Sumatra Turtle Project

Do you want to release turtles

We didn’t stay long enough to release any rehabilitated or juvenile turtles. BOOO. I can imagine how exhilarating it would be to see those beautiful creatures swim off on their new lives.

We had a brilliant time staying at Ricky’s though and we’re hoping to go back another time to volunteer more with the turtles.

Imogen nurturing her turtle
A bath full of baby turtles

Staying at Ricky’s Beach House!

Ricky’s beach house is a series of wooden beach-side houses that you can rent and they are blissful. He employs local boys from the village who are not only really nice people but fantastic musicians too and most nights they had jam sessions and we all sang along with them.

Ricky’s place was the ONLY place in the whole of Sumatra that really cared about what we ate and it was the only place where we weren’t hungry. Much to the kids joy and amazement, they had freshly cooked noodles for breakfast and a really nutritious freshly cooked evening meal too. We ate with other tourists at meal times which gave us a chance to meet travellers from around the world.

Ricky’s beach house

What’s the village like?

The village is basic but immensely colourful and full of life.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I struggled with Sumatra. As an independent, atheist, female, it was personally very challenging to visit such an old-fashioned island that has quite strong beliefs about the role of women. Clearly none of which I agreed with however the village of Nagari Sungai Pinang welcomes tourists and is friendly and accepting of difference.

Houses in the village
The shores of Nagari Sungai Pinang.

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Want to know more about staying at Ricky's and volunteering with or seeing the turtles then you'll need to read this post.

 Want to know more about Sumatra?