Turtle Hatchery in Sri Lanka

In keeping with traditions of finishing up “loose ends” at the end of the year, I’m publishing draft posts I started but never published. Here’s the first of several drafts…

June 29, 2011

On the 6-hr drive back to Colombo, we stopped at a turtle hatchery on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. I’m so glad we did! 5 of 8 sea turtle species come to this particular beach to lay their eggs – the Green, the Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley. Instead of fighting the locals to prevent them from digging up, selling and/or eating the eggs, they have the locals work with them (or for them?) by paying for each egg that is brought to the conservation center. The center also for rehabilitates hurt turtles as well as being a haven for albinos whose chances for survival are very slim. We were quite impressed with the work they’re doing. It’s such a large-scale project on a small area of beach on an even smaller budget.

This albino turtle will never be released back into the wild because it has no color making it easy prey. It begs the question: is it better to live in captivity or risk death by predator?

The rescued eggs are re-buried in the sand with location markers noting their date of "capture." When the hatchlings emerge from the sand, a light under the wire mesh (in the foreground) is turned on, mimicking the moon drawing the hatchlings to the small enclosure where they are then gathered and placed in a pool for 1--4 days. This ensures a few days growth, strength and to increase their chances of survival. These extra days takes into account calm seas hoping more babies will make it past the calmer surf. Every bit helps.

1 day-old hatchlings

A closer look at the beautiful albino Hawksbill.


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