Turtle Watching Tours in Sri Lanka
Turtle species in Sri Lanka

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Turtle species in Sri Lanka

Olive Ridley Turtle - Lepidochelys olivacea

This is the most common of the turtle species visiting Sri Lankan shores. Olive Ridley turtles sometimes appear in large numbers. The peak nesting period in Sri Lanka is between September and November. The Olive Ridley Turtle is the smallest of all the marine turtles. It has a round olive coloured carapace devoid of any markings but with a serrated edge. The Olive Ridley is omnivorous, eating crustaceans, small fish and occasionally marine vegetation. Olive Ridley which reaches a length of 80 cm and commonly weighs about 50kg.Oilve Ridley turtles nest in huge congregations known as arribada's. In Orissa in North East India about 600,000 females nest on one beach on a few consecutive nights each year.

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Leatherback Turtle - Dermochelys coriacea

The Leatherback turtle is the largest of the sea turtles. The biggest specimen ever seen by man was 3 m long and weighed 916kg. Leatherback turtles feed almost exclusively on jellyfish and therefore often fall prey to marine pollution. Plastic bags floating in the water look like jellyfish, the turtle eats the plastic which lines its stomach causing the animal to starve to death.

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Green Turtle - Chelonia mydas

Nesting of Green turtles is reported from all turtle nesting sites, with the highest abundance in Kosgoda and Rekawa. The carapace of this species is oval in shape and has a green and black mottled appearance. Green turtles nest throughout the year on Sri Lankan shores, with their peak season being between January and March. The diet of the Green turtle changes during its lifetime. Juveniles are mostly carnivorous, feeding on a variety of worms, crustaceans, and small fish, whereas the adults are herbivorous, feeding only on marine vegetation (sea grasses and algae).

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Hawksbill Turtle - Eretmochelys imbricata

Hawksbill turtle by its hawk-like pointed beak and the colourful, o verlapping scutes on its carapace.The Hawksbill is relatively smaller than the other marine turtles.Hawksbill turtles are able to store toxins from jellyfish, sponges and crustaceans in their flesh. Consumption of Hawksbill flesh can prove fatal. A number of people in Sri Lanka have died as a result of eating Hawksbill turtle flesh. Hawksbill turtles have been driven to the brink of extention by the "tortise shell" trade. The turtles' scutes are removed while the animal is still alive and are then fashioned into ornaments and souvenirs. Its narrow head and jaws shaped like a beak allow it to search in small crevices of coral reefs for food.

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Loggerhead Turtle - Caretta caretta

Loggerhead turtles are the least common of the marine turtles nesting in Sri Lanka. These turtles are so named because of their large head, containing a pair of muscular jaws. They are distinguished by the colour of their carapace that has varying shades of brown and the pattern of scutes on their carapace and head. Loggerheads feed on sponges, jellyfish, mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, and a variety of fish. The main nesting season for this species is between November and January.

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