Gaya Island Resort – Releasing Ninja the Turtle!

Finally I stepped on the beach of the Gaya Island Resort in Pulau Gaya last week, after years of being meaning to visit.

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The primary reason is to celebrate Ninja’s release, a green sea turtle that was nursed back to health at the resort’s marine centre after it was discovered 3 months earlier to be malnourished and suffering from septicemia.

Ninja was first discovered in April 2014 when Dr Nathan Sen, Assistant Director of Sabah Wildlife Department and his team found out that a local farmer had a turtle in his possession.
In Sabah, turtles are a protected species and a fine of RM50,000 plus 5 years imprisonment is in effect for anyone caught keeping turtles.

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The event on 27th June saw Ninja being released to her natural habitat as she’s officially deemed fit to return to the sea.
It was a poignant moment as I watched Scot Mayback, the Marine Biologist of Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre gently picked her up and carried her with much love to the water’s edge.

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After being in his care for 3 months, Ninja’s weight improved from 7.7 kg to 8.6 kg and her appetite and colour returned.
It took 3 months of constant surveillance and various medication including antibiotics to get Ninja to be back to optimum health.

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It was a happy and touching event as current guests of Gaya Island Resort, staff of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Asst Director Dr Nathan Sen, Dr Diana Ramirez, WWF and Reef Check, staff of Gaya Island Resort as well as over 30 primary school students from Gaya Island’s Kampung Gaya School watched and cheered as Ninja swam her way to freedom! 🙂

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Gaya Island Resort houses Malaysia’s first turtle rehabilitation centre, which comes complete with a turtle rescue hotline. The public is encouraged to call the Turtle Rescue Hotline at +6 13 899 9509 should they find a sick, injured or illegal kept turtle in Sabah.

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“Saving a single turtle requires team effort,” said Mr. Mayback.
“For rescuing and rehabilitating Ninja, I need to thank Dr Sen, Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit’s Dr Diana Ramirez who helped with the medical treatments, and Dr. Pilcher, without whom the turtle rescue centre would not have been founded.
I hope that we can continue to not only help turtles and other sea life in need of care, but also motivate and inspire the public so they can also support and value our rich marine eco-system.”

BELOW: Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre at Tavajun Bay.

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There are currently 7 baby turtles being taken care of in the centre.

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The Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre advocates 3 conservation pillars – Turtle Rescue, Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation Through Education.
The marine centre’s programmes were conceptualised and are being implemented by Scott Mayback, the resort’s Resident Marine Biologist.
Ninja is the 4th turtle to be taken in here and released.
With a touch pool and aquariums that assists in rehabilitating marine life that comes into the arms of the Centre, its location on the secluded Tavajun Bay makes it a good sanctuary for recovery.

I must applaud YTL Hotels for its long term vision to make a difference to the environment where its expanding collection of unique hotels and resorts are located.

To experience Gaya Island Resort, residents of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei can opt for the Residents’ Package which starts from RM899/ night for a minimum booking of 2 nights. This includes daily breakfast, lunch & dinner with complimentary coffee/tea/water served during meals! 🙂
Return scheduled speedboat transfers from Sutera Harbour Marina are also provided.
This is a good deal as the usual price is about RM1000 – 1XXX (no meals) depending on season.

Next, I’ll be writing about my stay here so stay tuned!
This is the video of my Kinabalu Villa – take a look if you’re curious about how the villas here look like –>