Terengganu Turtle Conservation Programme - Pulau Perhentian

Hotel/Trip Description


Terennganu ~ Setiu River & Penarik ~ day visit

Minimum no. of Persons

There is a minimum of ten adoptions per trip

Tour Commences

From Kuala Terengganu town

Facility & Activity

setiu river and penarik hatchery

Things to Bring

Checklist Attire ~ Light cotton long sleeve and short sleeve tshirts, shorts, hat, sunglasses

Essentials to get you through ~ mosquito repellent, sunblock lotion, heat rub for muscles ache, water bottle Nice to haves ~ camera and batteries, video cameras

Introduction to Programme

In 2011 we started the Ecoteer Teaching and Community Project and in 2014, in collaboration with Blue Temple Conservation, we started the Marine Research Project. Now in 2015, this is the final piece to the jigsaw – an island-wide Sea Turtle Conservation Project.

This new turtle project is all about helping to protect and conserve the turtles that nest, breed and forage around Perhentian Islands. You will not only protect them whilst on the nesting beaches but help gain more knowledge about them whilst they are in the waters around the islands. This project forms one aspect of what we want to achieve in the islands, a complete Community and Conservation (Turtles and Corals) Project. I am proud of what our team have achieved so fa r, however the establishment of this project is actually just the start of things.

Now we have set our foundations, it is time to make a long lasting difference in the Perhentian Islands.

Daniel Quilter, 2014

The objectives of the Terengganu Turtle Expedition program are as follows:

You will be helping to collect photo’s for identifying individual sea turtles swimming and nesting in the islands. Your efforts will help to identify hotspots of sea turtle activity which then decision makers can use to develop the Sea Turtle Management Plan for the Perhentian Islands.

Additionally, you may have a free morning or afternoon each day (if there are no other additional activities) to explore the islands or just relax under tree and read a book in your hammock. If you prefer, you can help our team during free time with your own mini project.


Snorkel Photo ID Session

The scutes (scales) on the flippers and the side of a green turtle’s face are unique to each individual. In collaboration with the Terengganu State Department of Fisheries, we collect photos of the sea turtles on nesting beaches and at sea whilst snorkelling With each photo we also record sighting data such as location, time, date, male/female etc. We then use an identification software (NaturePatternMatch) developed by Cambridge University to identify each turtle photo against a database of previously identified individuals. If new turtles are discovered then you get to name your new turtle. The information that this research gathers is vital for conservation measures as we will be able to determine population numbers of male and female turtles, identify hotspots where conservation efforts need to be focused and also movement patterns of the turtles. The data will then be useful to decision makers to design the Marine Park Zonation Plan.

Turtle Watch

You will help to collect non-flash photos of nesting sea turtles at beaches around the Perhentian Islands. The photos that you collect will help our researchers to study the sea turtle population in the Perhentian Islands. Additionally, turtle eggs are occasionally poached from the beaches around the islands. The government staff travel around the islands but they are sometimes too late and poachers have already taken the eggs. You will patrol the beach with Terengganu State Department of Fisheries staff and when a turtle comes to nest inform the government official who will then collect the eggs and safely protect them in their official hatchery. Better beach management such as the on-going efficient turtle patrol has proven to reduce the natural and human threats on nesting beaches.

Travel Dates (Available for 2015 onwards)

April 6th & 20th ; May 4th & 18th ; June 1st, 15th & 29th ; July 13th & 27th ; August 10th & 24th ; Sept 7th & 21st ; Oct 5th & 19th ; Nov 2nd & 16th

Program Fee

No of Weeks

International Volunteers

Malaysian Volunteers

2 weeks

MYR 3270 (approx. GBP625)

MYR 1890

3 weeks

MYR 3800 (approx. GBP725)

MYR 2500

4 weeks

MYR 4330 (approx. GBP825)

MYR 3200

MYR-Malaysian Ringgit/ GBP-British Pounds


Marine park fee, return ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands, minimum 2/3 overnight turtle watches per week (could be more as needed),Daily Photo ID sessions with our researchers, volunteer activities, food costs, co-ed dormitory accommodation with western toilet.


Food, Travel to / from Kuala Besut, insurance

NOTE : Ecoteer Responsible Travel Membership is included in your cost. All members get a RM250 / GBP55 discount.

Travel Information

Volunteers are to make their own travels to Kuala Besut jetty.

NOTE: This is a rough outline of the activities that will be conducted whilst on the project; some activities will be swapped as shifts change on a rota basis.

Sample Itinerary ;

FOR A 2 WEEK CYCLE. You can volunteer for 2,3,4 or more weeks.


Morning : Volunteers arrive at Safe Park Holidays office, Kuala Besut jetty. Boat transfer to the PIR Jetty (Pulau Perhentian Besar).

Afternoon : Briefing and orientation: project overview and code of conduct, water confidence session (learn the do’s and don’ts of snorkeling plus how to wear the life jacket & snorkel gear).

Evening : Dinner, marine presentation & rest.


Morning : Learning session for all – with presentations about sea turtles, you will all

be set your own subject about sea turtles and their conservation to later share with the group.

Afternoon : Learn about the sea turtle ID research which is in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and go for your first photo-snapping snorkel of the nearby sea grass bed where the green turtles mostly hang out during the day.

Evening : Turtle watch on rotation (3 teams rotate with 1 team on duty and 2 teams off).


Morning: Free

Afternoon : Snorkel Photo ID Session

Evening : Turtle watch on rotation (3 teams rotate with 1 team on duty and 2 off).


Morning: Snorkel Photo ID Session

Afternoon : Free

Evening : Turtle watch on rotation (3 teams rotate with 1 team on duty and 2 off).


Departure day. You can take the boat leaving the islands at 8am, 12noon or 4pm.

All activities are subject to changes and additional activities such as beach clean up, awareness campaign at local resorts, etc, during the day may be included during your volunteering time here.

What skills do you need on this placement in Malaysia?

Intro week

If you are a non-Malaysian volunteer you will be starting your program where you will learn about sea turtles, coral reefs and the forest of the Perhentian islands. This week will also involve nightly patrols of the sea turtle nesting beach at Bubbles and talking to the guests about sea turtle conservation. The purpose of this week is to first teach you about the environment and then help you to share your new knowledge to the guests so you can make the most out of your following weeks.

In the Village (weeks 2+)

The volunteers loved spending the night in the village in 2010 and the villagers started to see how they benefit from turtles financially. Therefore in 2011 after the intro week as a volunteer you will be based in the village providing direct financial benefits to the local villagers. It is so important the villagers see financial benefits from the a healthy sea turtle population and its this which will stimulate a love for turtles amongst the villagers.

Protecting Pinang Seribu

The beach at Pinang Seribu is only 50m long but with over 150 turtle nests per year it is the number 1 beach for sea turtle nestings in the Perhentian Islands. On a rota system each night volunteers (only volunteers based in the village) will guard this beach and collect data about the nesting turtles. The volunteers are assisting the Department of Fisheries by collecting this data and the sheer presence of volunteers deters the poachers. Volunteers will be accompanied by Help Our Penyu staff and a villager. You will be sleeping in tents among the rocks fringing the beach. PLEASE BE WARNED ONLY HELP OUR PENYU STAFF AND THE VILLAGER ARE ALLOWED TO APPROACH ANY POACHERS.

Turtles Need Trees and English Club

We had such great success with our fortnightly Turtles Need Trees Club in the pilot year 2010 that we will continue this program but also introduce a fortnightly English club as well. The clubs are a great way to engage the local school children on the island and help them to not only develop a love for the marine and island environment but also improve their English.

Info Booth

Tourists are one of the biggest problems for sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. By educating the tourists about sea turtle and marine conservation you will help to reduce the following conflicts – harassing turtles (in the sea and whilst nesting), encouraging improper conduct (paying to release turtle hatchlings) and standing on corals. The info booth is portable and will be located at different beaches around the island.

Where does my money go?
The cost of your trip covers four main areas;

The administration and marketing are essential to the running of any project and ensures that you can find the project, you are well prepared for the trip, that you can have questions answered and the whole things works well.

Getting you safely to the project, ensuring you get fed, giving you a room at the project site and staffing the project is the other chunk of spending. This makes your experience enjoyable and ensures you work most effectively when you are at the center.

The remainder funds the community work. Your money helps to purchase materials, resources, medicines, food, pay for staff and any releases. The project exists because of you.

How do I go about booking my flights?
Please try to book your flights as far as possible in advance of your departure as flights become more expensive with time. We will provide you with some additional information in the 'Know Before You Go' pack that we send when we have received your deposit. If you have any difficulties feel free to contact our support team.

Do I need a mosquito net?
Volunteers sometimes leave behind their mosquito nets but we cannot guarantee availability so if in any doubt please bring your own.

Can I leave my old clothes behind?
If you are going to throw them away, please leave them with a project facilitator as old clothes are often appreciated by the local community

Code of Conduct

This code has been designed by Ecoteer after consultation with project coordinators and volunteers and has been adapted for the Terengganu Turtle Expedition. The code of conduct ensures all volunteers are aware of their obligations and responsibilities to the project, villagers and other volunteers. By accepting the intent of the code and through complying with its provisions, Ecoteer volunteers acknowledge their privileged status as representatives of Ecoteer within local communities. Failure to comply with the code may lead to the withdrawal of a person from a project.

Before you volunteer

Before you come on this expedition you must research about traveling in Malaysia and Malay culture. If you have any questions we are more than willing to talk with you;

You must buy yourself suitable travel insurance;

If you cannot join the expedition for whatever reason please contact us as soon as possible;

Whilst on the expedition

Listen to, and follow, the instructions of your expedition leaders;

On many of the days you will be waking up early – 5.30am. It is vital to the program that you are punctual.

You will be walking in the tropics. The temperature can exceed 40c so ensure you drink plenty of water and wear sun block;

VERY IMPORTANT - On days that you walk you will have a break during the hottest time of the day – 11am til 2pm. You are encouraged to bathe in the sea to help your body cool down BUT you are not allowed to sunbathe on the beach. Dehydration and heat stroke is a serious risk and all precautions must be taken to prohibit them;

VERY IMPORTANT - You will be walking and staying at traditional Malaysian villagers which are very devout Islamic communities. All participants must wear t-shirts and not small vests or bikinis or topless for the guys whilst walking or whilst staying in the village;

Whilst resting near or staying in villages you must wear t-shirts when in the sea or on the beach.

Whilst visiting the homes of the local villagers and at the school the males must wear trousers (not shorts) and the females long skirts or trousers. The most important thing is to ensure your knees are covered.

Display respect and courtesy for expedition staff, other volunteers, the villagers and tourists (whilst on Perhentian);

VERY IMPORTANT – Expedition goers must understand some cultural differences may disturb them, but their feelings should be kept under control. If they have a significant problem they should discuss this with the expedition staff who may help to explain more about the issue and act upon it suitably;

Overnight visitors are not allowed in your rooms;

Expedition staff and tourists are not allowed to have intimate relationships;

Respect the accommodation you are using and pay for any damage you may cause to the property;

Be aware that there will be no refunds for food/accommodation if you decide to go on trips or leave early;

Work Ethics

Tardiness is not acceptable. Your full commitment to the project and initiative will help the project maintain a good reputation within the village communities. Your attitude towards cultural sensitivities will also play a major role in building this relationship.

Volunteers who do not turn up for work or refuse to participate in the daily work routine will be issued a warning, after which, they may be removed from the project without compensation.

Food & Drinks


The first week breakfast will be basic with porridge and toast being the staple as they provide good energy. For the lunches on days 2, 3 and 7 the HOPE staff will be cooking a simple meal consisting of rice, fish and vegetables. The other lunches and dinners in the first week will be taken either at local restaurants or with the ladies of PEWANIS who will cook you their local cuisine. The local cuisine tends to be spicy so PLEASE inform us if you do not like spicy food.

During the walking days we will provide you with water. We allocate two litres of water per 10km and the leader will take additional water.

We will continue to supply you with free water throughout the whole expedition.

During your second week you will stay at the Bubbles Dive Resort where you will be provided with three meals a day at the open-air restaurant. Each day for breakfast you can choose between cereals, egg on toast or the most favourite chocolate pancake. Lunch consists of either sandwiches, noodles or pasta. In the evening the meals get more traditional with rice being served with a chicken dish, a vegetable dish and an egg for all to share. You have access to free flow water, tea and coffee.


Laundry services are available at both Kg Mangkok and Bubbles Dive Resort. The cost of laundry is not included in the expedition

Things to Pack

Malaysia is a country with lots and lots of rain with an annual rainfall of way over 2500mm in many areas. Humidity levels are extremely high at over 90%. If the sun is out, your clothes will dry in no time, but on a cloudy day, wet clothes, shoes, towels take very much longer to dry.

Bring clothes that are light and dry easily. Heavy downpours in Malaysia are really buckets emptying themselves over you, so be prepared to get soaked to the skin when you least expect it! Light material long sleeves and long pants are advisable for tree planting activity due to the weeds, undergrowths and insects that may be encountered.

Bring several changes of clothes that you don’t mind getting really mucky and dirty in as habitat restoration work involves clearing of undergrowth and weeds, mulching and tree planting. Other work at the school / in the community may involve painting, building or maintenance work.

Taking into consideration community sensitivities, clothes that cover the shoulders & cleavage and longer than the knees are a must when working in the village. The same is necessary when visiting local homes and schools.

This packing list is only a suggestion and by no means a complete or exhaustive list.

Must Haves

~ Photocopies of important papers such as passport, airline tickets and insurance documents

~ Money in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)

~ Day bag / rucksack with waterproof cover or bring plastic bags

~ Waterproof bags to protect important items

~ T shirts, t shirts and more t shirts (thin ones are the best);

~ Shorts;

~ A few pairs of light weight trousers;

~ Swim wear;

~ Rash vest to wear in the sea;

~ Towels;

~ Sun block – biodegradable is best – (Non-biodegradable sun block is one of the biggest killers of coral on the Great Barrier Reef – the best is called ‘Aloe up’ just Google it);

~ Small pillow for camping;

~ Red bulb torch (head torches are very useful);

~ Sandals or flip-flops;

~ Poncho;

~ Clothes that you do not mind getting dirty whilst replanting mangrove trees;

~ Good walking shoes or trainers (flip flops and sandals are not allowed in the jungle);

~ Water bottle;

~ A hat to keep off the sun;

~ Camcorder/Digital camera if possible to film turtles;

~ Underwater camera;

~ Books and mp3 players - to keep you occupied during time off;

~ Mosquito net;

~ Medicines – Anti-histamines, basic first aid kit, sunscreen, after sun, Diarrhoea medication and antibiotics and anti-inflammatory for ear, nose and throat problems. Peroxide and anti-bacterial Dettol can both be useful for cleaning out cuts as wounds quickly become infected;

~ MAXIS (which is also called hotlink) Malaysian Sim card – this network has the best coverage at the project site; we suggest you get RM30 of credit for 4 weeks;

~ Stationery like pencils, paper and story books to give to the children (OPTIONAL);

Shopping Locally

Most items are available in Malaysia at comparative prices. You can get almost anything from the hundreds of little shops and large shopping malls dotted all around Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are abundant in Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu

Cash is the preferred mode of transaction in small shops and some do not accept credit cards. Shops in the village carry extremely limited items and will only accept cash.