Rare sighting of sea turtle near Lazarus Island in S'pore


Sumita Thiagarajan | November 19, 2020, 01:21 AM

Singapore's tropical waters are filled with dolphins, eagle rays and many other creatures.

On Monday (Nov. 16) at around 6pm, three sea turtles were sighted off Seringat-Kias, a sandy beach near Lazarus Island, according to the Wild Singapore blog.

Sea turtle seen floating near water's surface

In a photo taken by Alex Yip of Summit Marine Systems, one of the turtles was seen with its head above the water.

Photo by Alex Yip

The turtle has been identified as a green turtle by Zeehan Jaafar, a researcher in Singapore who studies aquatic vertebrates in the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore.

According to wildsingapore, adult green turtles eat mainly or only seagrasses, and are found near coastal areas with seagrass meadows.

Young green turtles are omnivorous and eat seaweeds, crabs and squid.

A video of the encounter uploaded to Facebook showed the sea turtle bobbing on the surface of the water before it dived underwater and disappeared:

According to the Smithsonian, sea turtles can hold their breath underwater for about four to seven hours when resting.

Critically endangered sea turtles, such as hawksbill turtles, are regularly spotted in Singapore, especially during nesting season very year.

What to do if you spot a sea turtle in S'pore

Here's an advisory from NParks if you ever encounter a nesting turtle:

  • Call NParks at 1800-4717300.
  • Keep your distance from the turtle and the eggs. Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. Handling the eggs may damage them, or introduce bacteria into the nest.
  • Talk softly and stay out of sight. Do not shine lights at the turtle or use flash photography. Light and noise may scare the turtle, and cause it to leave without laying any eggs.
  • Keep clear of tracks left by the turtle. Researchers use the tracks to identify the species of the turtle and to locate the nest.

Members of the public can also share their sightings of sea turtles in Singapore with researchers at the National University of Singapore via this online form.

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Top images by Alex Yip of Summit Marine Systems