You know those precious moments, that you just want to put in a jar and keep, so that in 10 years from now you can open it up again and relive the memory? Standing at the Malwanna beach in Sri Lanka watching baby sea turtles crawl their way into the big unknown ocean was one of those moments. During our last week in Sri Lanka me and my family stayed in Hikkaduwa and finally got to release some sea turtles to the ocean.
Six of the seven species of sea turtles that swim our planet’s waters: Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Green, Olive Ridley and Kemp’s Ridley are found in every ocean except the Artic and Antarctic. The seventh, the flatback , lives only in the waters around Australia.
A week earlier – in Unawatuna, we visited a hatchery with the hope of getting the opportunity of releasing some turtles. But it turned out that the babies at this hatchery was’t ready to be released just yet and we instead got a tour inside of the hatchery and got the chance to hold some small seaturtles. It was still amazing and it’s really interesting to listen to what the guides have to tell you about the different turtles they have there since many of them have met a very unfortanate faith.
But their main work is taking care of the eggs they find on beaches to provide a safer way for turtles to hatch and begin their journey in life. It’s estimated that only 1 turtle in a 1,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood. This is caused by humans destroying the eggs or stealing them to sell but the absolute main reason why they don’t survive on their way crawling down to the ocean is because of birds of pray. They often become the lunch of a big hungry bird.
The majority of the turtles being in hatcheries are injured or having a disability. Which makes they’re lives in the ocean very difficult. These hatcheries help the ones in need with medical care, medicines and the best help they are able to offer. We got to meet some turtles that had different disabilities such as a crooked shell etc. Those who were injured had been in boat accidents where either – the humans harmed them on purpose (which I can’t understand, how can someone be that cruel??) or the turtles had just accidently been runned over by a boatengine. The ones who had been hurt in this way had often lost a leg or two. Then there also were the turtles who’s stomachs had been damaged by plastics and microplastics.
Seeing these innocent and beautiful creatures having to be in a rescue center because of us and our daily choice to use plastic is truly horrible. I know I know, you read about it everywhere “save the turtles and our oceans, don’t use plastics” and some of you might even be tired of reading and hearing about it. But the thing is, it all felt so much more real when I got to see the damage with my own eyes. Standing beside a ancient, magnificent animal suffering because of us. Because we want to have the luxury to use plastic. A material that we could live happily without! Don’t you think that’s insane?
I have for a long time now tried to reduce my use of plastic products but I believe I do think about it even more frequently after meeting these turtles. Every time I come across single use plastic or unnessecary plastic in general, I remember myself of the turtles at the hatcheries in Sri Lanka and try to find another alternative. I found Sri Lanka to be very considerate when it comes to the usage of plastic. If you ever visit Sri Lanka you’ll quickly notice how rarely you’ll get served plastic straws at restaurants. They are always made of either bamboo or metal. Which is great, good job Sri Lanka!!
I got the opportunity to release baby turtles in Malawenna, near Hikkaduwa, where we were staying at the time. We visited the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project which is a very maintained turtle hatchery doing their very best to help the turtles. At Kosgoda we got a guided tour around the hatchery to look at the different turtles. This hatchery was a lot bigger than the one in Unawatuna, which was fun for us since they had a bigger variety of turtles. In Malawenna we accually got the chance to see the very rare albino turtles.
After our tour we cathed the most perfect sunset on the beach and just afterwards got handed out a basket full of baby turtles for us to release right there on the beach. This was a very special and truly magical moment. I compeletely fell in love with those tiny sea turtles that fitted perfectly in the palm of my hand. So so tiny and adorable. It felt unreal seeing them crawl their way to the big blue unknown.
When you release a baby turtle you grab them gently and place them beside each other on the beach in front of you. Then you stand still, completely still. Otherwise theres a big risk you’ll accidentally step on one while they swirl around in the waves that will break up on the beach. Did I tell you it felt unreal?, yes, it was amazing.
Turtles – Dinosaurs Of The Ocean
Did you know that sea turtles are extremely acient animals and already swam the oceans when dinosaurs roamed the earth 250 million years ago!!? Turtles are in other words dinosaurs living in our oceans who survived the extincion of the dinosaurs for about 65,5 million years ago. Aren’t they such fascinating animals?
If you ever get the chance to visit the south of Sri Lanka, don’t miss out on seeing these incredible hatcheries!