Turtle rehabilitation in Sri Lanka
Our Asia destination expert Gemma Delia recently returned from Sri Lanka famil where her main highlight was visiting the Turtle Sanctuary in Kosgodo.
Part way through our famil we visited Victor Hasselblad Sea Turtle and Research Centre – this was the highlight of my tour and the main reason I was so excited to visit Sri Lanka. The sanctuary is located in Kosgoda which is on the South Coast between Galle and Negombo.
While the facility was basic, the work they do there is truly amazing. The centre is not funded by the government in anyway and relies solely on the money from the entrance fee and donations.
Turtle eggs fetch a high price on the black market and because of this many species of Sea Turtle are endangered. On a regular basis the volunteers and staff go the beach and collect turtle eggs before the fishermen can poach them and will buy eggs of the local people for more than black market price around $20 USD per egg.
These eggs are taken back to the centre and buried in what looks like a sand pit. They stay here until the turtles hatch. Because turtles hatch at night and use the moon to guide them to the ocean, the centre has a spot light over a pool for when the hatching emerge from the sand.
The hatchings are kept in the centre for 3 days and then they are released into the ocean to go it alone. Over the last 25 years this centre has raised the survival rates of turtle hatchlings dramatically by keeping them till they are 3 days old, at a point when they are stronger and more likely to survive in the wild.
Not only does this centre raise turtles, they also care for sick and injured turtles. Most are rehabilitated and released back into wild with a few becoming residents of the centre because they are too badly hurt to be released. Injuries are mostly caused by fishing nets and pollution especially plastic bags which the turtles mistake for jelly fish and eat.
It was an emotional visit, but I left with a feeling of hope for the turtles. If centres like this can continue to educate people about why the ocean needs these creatures, the turtle population can continue to grow and prosper.
Gemma's famil trip was a customised version of Adventure World's 11-day Handpicked Sri Lanka, priced from $2330 per person.
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