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Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project, Galle Road, Mahapelena, Kosgoda, Sri Lanka
It’s an incredible experience to see these amazing creatures up close, to get to hold one in your hands and to release them into the sea in the hopes that maybe, just maybe your turtle will make it all the way to adulthood.
Good luck, Tarquin (the baby we released)!
There are only 7 species of marine turtles in existence and Sri Lanka is visited by five of them – the Green Turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill, the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley.
Female turtles return to the beach where they were hatched to lay their eggs, and will so up to five times in a season. Each visit produces between 80 and 120 eggs, the sex of which is determined by the heat of the nest during incubation. Once hatched, the baby turtles have to make a run for the sea to avoid predators – an activity known as the ‘juvenile frenzy’. For every 1000 eggs laid, only one will make it to mature adulthood.
There are 18 hatcheries along the Sri Lankan southern coastline and statistics reveal that almost 100,000 sea turtles were hatched and released from them during the period 1996 to 1999. The support of the island’s fishermen in helping to preserve and protect the species is enlisted by the hatcheries paying them for the eggs that they collect at night along the sandy beaches.
In existence since 1981 when it was established by the Wildlife Protection Society to protect Sri Lanka’s turtle populations, the Kosgoda Hatchery near Bentota is a brilliant place to visit. Tanks store the baby turtles for the first four days of their lives after which they are released into the sea.
The hatchery also has mature Green turtles that have been rescued and you can hold some of the species which can weigh up to 250 kilos.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+