SINGAPORE - The clutch of 141 eggs that was laid by a critically endangered hawksbill turtle at a beach along East Coast Park on Wednesday (Aug 23) night has been moved to a safer location with less foot traffic and low light pollution.
The National Parks Board (NParks) told The Straits Times that the decision was made to move the eggs as the original site posed a high risk to the nest.
"Based on factors such as the proximity to the shore, the amount of light pollution and foot traffic, NParks assessed that the site posed a high risk to the nest," said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine division at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.
"Following best turtle management practices, we have translocated the 141 eggs to a more suitable spot with less foot traffic and low light pollution. We will continue to monitor the eggs closely," she added.
While sightings of freshly-hatched turtle hatchlings have been regularly reported, the sight of a turtle laying eggs is a rare one.
The pregnant turtle had on Wednesday evening been spotted by a member of the public making landfall at a beach in East Coast Park.
NParks was alerted and its officers were on the scene within half an hour, to observe and monitor the turtle and take down notes.
Following a report by The Straits Times on the sighting, members of the public on social media raised concerns about the lights used in the process.
Dr Tun clarified that the site was kept dark and quiet while the turtle was trying to find a suitable area to dig the hole.
"Once the turtle started laying her eggs, lights were used, from the back, to monitor the egg laying process and for data collection purposes. NParks was careful to avoid directing the light at the turtle's face to minimise disturbance to it," she added.
When The Straits Times was at the scene on Wednesday night, NParks scientists, who had gone to Australia earlier this year to learn more about turtle management at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre - an established institute on turtle ecology - were also seen supervising the use of lights, and ensuring that all observers kept their distance.
Members of the public are reminded to contact the NParks helpline (1800-471-7300), and to keep their distance and speak softly when a turtle is sighted.
Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. People should also not handle the eggs as this might damage them.