The Living EdensBats Borneo: Island in the Clouds
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Turtle on a seashore.Seashore and Reefs Audio button

Borneo's extraordinary abundance of life doesn't end at the limits of the land. Just beyond its shoreline lies the frontier of another world as rich and complex as anything on the surface. Borneo's reefs lie where the Indian and Pacific Oceans overlap, making its waters the meeting point for a mass of marine life.

These reefs have been called the rainforests of the sea. They are blessed with a huge variety of corals, which support a wealth of micro-organisms and a hierarchy of fish to feed on them. But all of this abundance attracts attention. The reef is a magnet for predators, and ocean-going hunters like the barracuda are drawn to the reefs in a large numbers.

Turtle and Fishes.Other visitors return to the reefs on the last leg of a long migration. After 25 years away, sea turtles return to the island of their birth. Now ready to breed, they may have covered thousands of miles of ocean to reach the reef just below the beach where they were born. Females swim to the reefs, where males are waiting, and when the time is right, each female will move off to join a mate.

Several times during each breeding season, female turtles journey onto a sandy beach and lay their eggs -- an average of 85 on each occasion. Sometime later, the eggs hatch, and the baby turtles immediately enter the ocean. Out of every hundred hatchlings, only one will live long enough to reach breeding age.

Sea turtles are among Borneo's many endangered species. Turtle eggs are a delicacy, and often fetch a hefty sum at market. As a result, egg collecting has become increasingly frequent. Though it's difficult to say exactly how the harvesting is affecting the turtles, turtle populations have been declining for many years. Additionally, hundreds of adult turtles are killed each year by fishing ships and by dumped garbage such as plastic bags, which turtles can mistake for jellyfish. Although conservation efforts are underway to help the sea turtles, they continue to struggle for survival as a species.

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