Hawksbill turtle makes surprise visit at Sentosa Cove's 'coral garden'

The turtle came up for a breath of fresh air.

Gawain Pek | July 12, 2022, 07:33 PM

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A video was posted to the Singapore Marine Guides Facebook and Instagram pages on Jul. 6 showing a Hawksbill turtle spotted within the waters of ONEo15 Marina's docks in Sentosa Cove.

The turtle briefly popped its head above the surface for air before beginning its dive back underwater.

Footage via Singapore Marine Guides/Facebook

Hawksbill turtles can hold their breath underwater for several hours before needing to resurface for air.

How the name "P-Dock turtle" came about

In the posts by Singapore Marine Guides, the turtle was given the name "P-Dock turtle".

In response to Mothership's queries, Wade Pearce, founder of Singapore Marine Guides, shared that it was given the name because of the area of the marina where turtles are often spotted by boat crews.

The turtle from this particular encounter is unique though.

Pearce said that if you look closely, a "line or string on the front left flipper" will be visible on the turtle. This suggests it's a returning turtle that they had seen in the area before.

Happened during a visit by MPA staff

Pearce shared that the Jul. 6 encounter took place during a visit by Maritime Port Authority staff to ONEo15 Marina's "Coral Garden".

"Coral Garden" is a project at the marina which utilises the waters of its docks as a nursery for corals before transplanting them to seawalls for further growth.

Naturally, Hawksbill turtles help promote the growth of corals by feeding on sponges, which compete for space on reefs with corals.

By eating sponges, Hawksbill turtles keep their growth in check, ensuring corals are allowed space to grow.

That said, turtles have been visiting ONEo15 Marina long before "Coral Garden" was set up, according to Pearce.

"At least once a month someone will encounter turtles for the first time in ONEo15 Marina," he said.

"But honestly, the crew see them regularly", he added.

This video was uploaded to the ONEo15 Marina Facebook page back in May this year:

Though turtle sightings are a regular occurrence at the marina, Pearce celebrated last week's chance encounter as a "nod" to the meeting between stakeholders of the maritime community.

June to September is turtle nesting season

According to NParks, between June to September each year, female hawksbill turtles select a suitable spot to lay their eggs.

In other words, you may soon expect to see turtles on our beaches, such as the East Coast Park where turtles have often been spotted in the past.

Here are some reminders on what to do if you do encounter turtles or their hatchlings at the beaches:

  • Call NParks at 1800 471 7300.
  • 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.

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Top image via Singapore Marine Guides/Facebook