Instead of tears of tenderness, a lump in the throat arises from monstrous injustice. These scenes with turtles on Legian Beach in Bali have stirred up the local community, reigniting discussions about how tourists can pose a threat to the island's life.
In the video, it's evident that the turtle is not moving in its usual measured rhythm; rather, it appears to be in a panic, attempting to escape the beach where someone set off fireworks. Observing the footage makes it clear that the reptile is confused and may not fully comprehend the direction to safety, as the explosions occur just a few meters away.
Legian Beach, like Kuta Beach, is a primary nesting site for turtles. Yes, they lay eggs across the entire island, but these locations are where they return most frequently—or used to return. Because now, it's not as peaceful for them as before.
The distress of this particular turtle from the video quickly spread through social media, partly because setting off fireworks on the beach is a blatant violation of Balinese legislation. Any fireworks are prohibited without official approval from the regency authorities, and obtaining such permission is practically impossible. The only exception is made for New Year's celebrations. In other cases, a fine of 2 million rupiahs is imposed for unauthorized pyrotechnic displays.
Agus Susila Dharma, the Chairman of Legian Beach, explained that this rule is aimed at protecting turtles that reproduce on Legian Beach. "So, in our traditional village of Legian, there are rules against setting off fireworks, except during New Year's. The goal is to ensure nothing hinders turtles from laying eggs. By the way, on our beach, there are turtles laying eggs, so the ecosystem is intact and supported," said Agus Susila.
He clarified that the funds from fines for fireworks go directly to the village treasury, and anyone caught launching fireworks is apprehended. Every hotel along Legian Beach is equipped with prohibiting signs, and foreign tourists staying there should be informed about the prohibition.
Meanwhile, online commentators deem such a penalty (2 million rupiahs) too lenient and suggest increasing the fine by tens or even hundreds of times and completely banning any fireworks, even on New Year's Eve. After all, not only turtles suffer but the entire fauna of the island.
"I am very concerned about what is happening to wild birds and bats. Imagine being a bat using echolocation for flight when fireworks are exploding around," added one worried tourist.
"I would really like fireworks to be prohibited in any public place without safety rules," another traveler joined in.
Tourists visiting Bali should remember that Indonesia is home to many endangered species, and despite having numerous more wild islands, rare animals and birds also inhabit Bali. Only 6 out of the 7 sea turtle species in nature can be found here.
To increase their population and help as many turtle hatchlings survive as possible, eggs from the beaches are usually collected by the staff of the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (KBSTC). They locate nests in areas such as Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Canggu. Volunteers hope that these efforts will help preserve sea turtles. However, observations currently show an unpleasant trend – the number of nests is decreasing because turtles will not lay eggs in noisy and overly illuminated places.
Therefore, it is crucial for tourists to remember something else. Intervening in the turtle hatching process is strictly forbidden. Even moving sand near the nest, let alone touching the hatchlings, can lead to their demise.
So, if you happen to encounter a turtle on the beach, regardless of its size, just observe it without breaching the distance.