The south coast of Sri Lanka is known for the beautiful beaches and crystal blue water with lots of wonderful sea life like whales, dolphins, and turtles. Between the 2 most famous cities in the south (Galle & Mirissa/Matara) you can find the much smaller city Habaraduwa. A cosy city with just a few hundred inhabitants and more than half of them are fishermen.
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You’ve probably seen a picture of the fishermen on sticks already. Of course, they do no harm to the turtles. But their colleagues on the boats are very dangerous to these amazing sea creatures. Sea turtles are very curious animals and tend to approach the boats passing by. They then use these boats to scratch their back.
There’s just 1 problem with these boats. Most of them are motorboats and the sea turtles don’t see any danger in these propellers. Normally they shouldn’t fear them, because there should be a guard system around the propeller. But when the guard system breaks, most people don’t (or can’t afford to) fix them and turtles get hurt by them.
The most common injury in the hatchery: a missing wing…
Sea Turtle hatchery in Habaraduwa
Here comes the Sea Turtle hatchery in Habaraduwa into play. Whenever a turtle gets injured, the people from Habaraduwa – but also neighbouring cities like Mirissa, Pelena, Walliwela and Unawatuna – bring the wounded animals to the Sea Turtle Hatchery. They heal their wounds and let them revalidate and put them back into the ocean when they are fully recovered.
Cute little turtle babies
When a turtle is carrying eggs, she is said to be gravid, not pregnant. Well, every female turtle is carrying eggs, but they’re infertile until a male turtle passes by and does his thing. The female turtles then search for a nice place on the beach and lay their eggs under the sand.
The people from the sea turtle hatchery pay close attention to the beach and when they see a turtles nest, they dig up the eggs and take them home. That’s why the name says hatchery. They have an area in their garden with around 1000 eggs at any given time.
Why do they dig up the eggs? Turtle eggs are a precious good for animals and humans. Apparently, it’s a delicacy and some people tend to eat the eggs or sell them for a lot of money.
When the eggs hatch in the hatchery they put the baby turtles immediately in the sea so they can have the free life they deserve. If they see some weaker baby turtles they let them strengthen in the hatchery for a while until they’re ready to go.
If you want to visit the hatchery, the entrance is 500 LKR (around 3 dollars/euros). It’s located at the A2, Habaraduwa in Sri Lanka (Google maps).
At the hatchery they have 5 different species of turtles:
- Leatherback turtle
- Green turtle
- Loggerhead turtle
- Hawksbill turtle
- Olive ridley turtle
If you’re really lucky and some eggs hatch while you’re at the hatchery you can help them put the little ones in the sea.
You’re always free to give them some donations so they can keep the turtles near Mirissa & Unawatuna safe. Or you can buy something in their super cute souvenir shop.