The northern bird’s head region of Irian Jaya (now West Papua Province) is located between Sorong Regency and Manokwari Regency and is a paradise of beautiful beaches such as Kaironi and Raja Ampat.
Based on the results of the survey of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) Irian Jaya back in 1981-1982, the beaches are very suitable for nesting sites of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coroacea), green turtles (Chelonia midas) and Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).
The five West Papua’s beaches referred to by WWF Papua have been proposed as nature reserves, i.e. Sidei-Wibain Beach (18 km), Mubrani-Kaironi Beach (20 km) and Sausapor Beach (14 km) is located in Manowari district while Wewe-Kwoor Beach (20 km) and Mushroom Beach –Medi (28 km) is situated in Sorong Regency. Our focus now is more on Kaironi Beach, a paradise which is also a sea turtle sanctuary.
Kaironi Beach as a Sea Turtle Reserve
The Kaironi Beach surrounding the Kaironi Village, Manokwari, is a potential nesting site for sea turtle species in the world. Back in the days before 1997, all the turtles that landed to lay their eggs on the beach were always hunted by the local people.
Either intentionally or unintentionally, the locals looked for turtles and their eggs in the coastal waters of Kaironi just to be consumed. As a result, since the year 2000, WWF Papua entered this area and began to provide understanding to the community about the importance of turtle species in their ecosystem.
Since then, the sea turtle reserve has always been guarded by the local community themselves which is regulated in the traditional sasi system, and they were also trained by WWF as patrols (turtle nesting coast guards).
Based on the information delivered by the local patrols, the spawning season for these sea turtles is between March and June. Around hundreds of egg-containing nests on the beach are now protected with rather tall wooden fences.
Apart from some irresponsible humans, there are some other threats against the turtles and their eggs on Kaironi Beach. One of which is the natural predators including toads (Bufo melanotictus), crabs and dogs (Canis domestic) that feed on the eggs or hatchlings of the sea turtles. Other natural factors that have caused the egg incubation period to fail are erosion and sea waves.
During the incubation period of about 40-60 days, the egg nests are monitored every morning. Any hatchlings that come out will be counted and then released to the sea water. There are also dead hatchlings and infertile eggs found. With the height of the fences that reach more than 90 cm, there is an indication that at this turtle nesting location there are still some natural predators found.
What to Enjoy on the Beach & How to Access It
Kaironi coast is very suitable for both marine and natural tourism because apart from being a turtle nesting site every year, this location also has an estuary, natural coastal forest and has a beautiful beach. The main difficulty experienced by visitors is the unavailability of housing or lodging (accommodation).
This location is actually far from the community village and has been protected by WWF so that community activities have been limited in this spawning area. Therefore, thankfully, any garbage or household waste is not found at this location.
Despite being far away from the community village, it is pretty easy to reach the sea turtle reserve on Kaironi Beach. Thanks to the available connecting transportation means such as cars and motorcycles. It takes about a three-hour drive from Manokwari district (which is approximately 20 km away from the site) but it is accessible enough by any vehicle.
Last but not least, it is safe enough to conclude that Kaironi Beach is not only one of the best beaches in West Papua, but also a haven for marine life enthusiasts, especially sea turtles. You can visit the place for both pleasure and scientific purposes.
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