Since it was World Turtle Day yesterday, I thought it was a nice opportunity for me to tell you guys about all the turtles I met in Sri Lanka.
You’ve already read about the time I saw a baby turtle take its first steps on the Mirissa beach.
However, I did get a chance to learn a little bit more about the turtles in Sri Lanka when I visited a turtle hatchery on the way from Hikkaduwa to Colombo.
The hatchery we visited (details at the end of the post) is run as a non-profit and works towards the conservation and protection of turtles right from the nesting phase, when the eggs are vulnerable to predators like eagles.
Five different types of turtles are found in Sri Lanka – the Green Turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill, the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley. The Oliver Ridley and Green Turtle are the most common species. Each turtle type’s eggs are buried separately as per their incubation periods.
The newly hatched turtles are moved to cemented tanks which are cleaned regularly. The male turtles are released into the sea in 3-4 days while the females in about 5 years.
My mother and I were quick to question the discrimination. But we were told that of the hundreds of turtles that are born, only maybe two of the turtles will be female. I told the guy that there should be more female turtles (like he had any control of over this) but all he said was, “Lucky man!”
What was really disconcerting to see was the “hospital tank.” The turtles in this tank were rescued from the ocean after they’d lost one or more limbs from being entangled in fishing nets.
Did you know that some turtles are born blind? I didn’t. There were two such turtles at the hatchery. Unfortunately, unlike humans, there’s nothing that can be done to restore their eyesight.
Finally, we met the Albino turtle or the white turtle. One in two million turtles are born as albino turtles. They are usually females but their rare nature leaves them with a poor chance of survival, which is why they have to preserved at hatcheries like this. Uncle Upali told me that the Albino turtle was exclusive to this particular hatchery but I’m not sure about that.
A lot of volunteers from around the world stay at the hatchery to help out from time to time. These gentle creatures, and all the others, need our support as much as we need their existence to keep the earth a happy and beautiful place. We need to do more than just dream of a better earth.
Have you ever volunteered or worked towards turtle or animal welfare? Or is there something you’d like to add to turtle conservation? The comments section is all yours.
On a lighter note, here’s a video I made of the turtles dancing to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling. The song is so freakin’ catchy, I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since I made the video. I’m doomed.
The turtle hatchery we visited is called the Marine Turtles Protecting Centre and is run by E.K. Santha Indrasiri Fernando. Uncle Upali told us the funniest story about him but I’m going to reserve that for another post (do I say that too often?) Anyway, the hatchery is located in Kosgoda in Sri Lanka.