July 1, 2011
On our drive back to Colombo from Yala National Park, we stopped at a turtle conservation center/hatchery. About a year ago, I had read about the efforts of this organization and had completely forgotten about doing so until we were there. Even though it’s appearance is smaller than one would expect, their success is huge.
Instead of having to patrol the beaches to fend off would-be poachers, they pay potential egg-robbers for every egg that is recovered and brought back to the center. This ensures all the eggs have a chance to mature undisturbed. The center reburies the eggs, and the clutch is dated.
Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings are then put into a large tank until they are 2-3 days old. This gives the hatchlings a head start ensuring that they’re strong enough to get through the surf and maybe be fast enough to out-swim any bird, cat and/or dog predators.
Not only is the center a hatchery, it’s also a rehabilitation center and refuge. Injured turtles are brought in and those that have full recoveries are released and returned to the water. Turtles who have extensive injuries (missing limbs, eyes) and not able to fend for themselves are kept at the center. Rare albino turtles are also kept at the center. They wouldn’t survive in the wild having no natural camouflage.
5 of the 8 species of sea turtles return to this beach every year. Red, Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Olive Ridleys have all come to lay their eggs here for generations (mature adults always return to where they hatched) and now, thanks to the efforts of this center, future generations of these beautiful, majestic, wonderful creatures will continue to do so.