If you are planning on visiting Borneo, then one of the most memorable parts of your trip will be visiting Turtle Island Borneo (or Pulau Selingan) located off of Borneo’s east coast. Turtle Island is one out of three islands committed to hawksbill and green turtle conservation and is also the only island that allows visitors to watch nesting turtles and the release of hatchlings.

It is the ideal environment for children to see one of the most impressive phenomena in nature and is one of the only areas in the world, where there are turtles arriving on the island to nest 365 days per year.

Although Turtle Island may sound like it is an island far away in the ocean, some indigenous people actually call it North America, while the Ojibwa and others call it the entire world.

An Introduction to Turtle Island

Turtle Island’s name is derived from First Nations. The story can be different, depending on who the storyteller is. However, they mainly agree that the turtle is an important aspect of the creation story (which is a story about who the world came to be).

There are some Nations who believe that the Earth was flooded by the Creator of all things because people were fighting and were not getting along. In one version of the story, only the spirit Nanabush (or Nanabozho) that appears in numerous Ojibwa legends and the animals survived. His parents are a spirit father and Anishinaabe mother, making him half human and half spirit.

How Did Turtle Island Get Created?

There is one creation story, which is based on a version of an Ojibwa legend which says that the Earth was flooded by the Creator, which left Nanabush floating around with the animals.

He came up with the creative idea to dive to the bottom of the water and take some earth back with him to create a new land. He dove into the water multiple times, but no could not get to the bottom no matter how hard he tried. After he got too tired to try any longer, the animals who were used to diving into the water tried to do it.

The Loon

Although the loon attempted to get to the bottom of the water, it was too deep. The turtle tried even though he was tired. However, he was not able to reach the bottom. Eventually, there wasn’t anyone left to try.

The Muskrat

Next, the muskrat offered to make an attempt. He was not used to diving so the other animals were laughing at him. However, after taking a deep breath, the muskrat dove into the water. Nanabush and the other animals waited. They looked for the muskrat in the water.

However, he did not show up. They waited a long time but gave up. Then the muskrat finally appeared. They rushed over to him as he was breathing his final breath. As the muskrat was dying, they saw he was holding onto the earth that he brought out of the water.

The Turtle

Since the muskrat has been willing to give up his life, the turtle said he would give his shell. The earth brought by the Muskrat could be put on the turtle’s back and then he would carry it. The earth was spread around by the wind. The small amount of earth that had been brought back by the Muskrat created Turtle Island.

Were You aware?

Many of the world’s cultures celebrate turtles. The turtle in African stories is the smartest of all the animals. The turtle is an incredibly powerful symbol in Chinese mythology. And the turtle in Tahiti is the ocean lord.