Seeing how people all over the world are trying to make a difference with climate change, saving animals and plant life – I was reminded of an extraordinary man, Mr Prida Charoenpak. Living in Thailand, he is dedicating his life to saving the endangered Hawksbill Sea turtles.
While researching my second book in the Stunt Double series, Jungle Curse, I was really fortunate to visit Thailand in 2016. And while we were there, we witnessed something incredibly magical that we never expected.
Desperate to snorkel, we booked a night on an island, called Koh Talu. During the boat journey there, we discovered there were only going to be 8 guests on the island, including the four of us. More importantly, the other guests were either marine biologists or vets, and they were here for a very special reason.
Unbeknown to us, the island is one of the places in Thailand where the endangered Hawksbill sea turtles lay their eggs. Having been tracking these magnificent creatures, the microbiologists believed one of them was going to lay her eggs that night. My family and I stayed up late, sitting silently in the dark on the beach, when all of a sudden there was movement. We remained where we were allowing her time to find the perfect spot for her nest.
Then the vets fetched us so that we could witness this remarkable sight. The eggs popped out in sets of three, and by the end of it she probably laid about fifty.
Then she spent an awful long time flicking the sand with her flippers, making sure her eggs were hidden from predators. And finally she waddled back to the sea.
The island is a hidden gem, owned by Mr Prida Charoenpak. He used to be a professional fisherman, owning 13 fishing boats n the 1970s. But when he saw how destructive his boats and other fishing vessels were to the marine life and coral reef, he sold them and bought the island. He’d seen the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles lay her eggs there and wanted to help.
On average, if left on their own, only one out of every 1000 eggs laid actually makes it to motherhood. And so Mr Prida Charoenpak and his team collect the eggs. When they hatch he puts the turtles into nurseries, and as soon as they are old enough, he releases them into the wild. The Thai Royal Navy protects the waters around the island.
Mr Prida Charoenpak’s story is inspiring. He is helping preserve our natural world. This was a magical experience, one that I will never forget.