OUR SEA TURTLES
Marine turtles have been roaming the world's oceans for about 190 million years. Today eight species of these ancient reptiles remain. Five of these species regularly visit the sandy beaches of Sri Lanka to nest.
Throughout the world, marine turtles are hunted and butchered for their flesh and shells. Even female turtles that have hauled themselves up the beach to nest are killed and their eggs are stolen.
The result of this global over exploitation is that this highly successful group of animals, which managed to survive with the dinosaurs, has become critically endangered. All species of marine turtle face extinction if man does not cease his destructive activities.
- In Sri Lanka all sea turtles and their products are fully protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Anyone found to be violating the conditions of this Ordinance is liable to face a substantial fine and/or prison term.
- Sea turtles are also protected under international law, therefore international trade in sea turtle products is illegal in countries, such as Sri Lanka, which are signatories to the CITES Convention. (CITES - Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species)
The small fishing village of REKAWA is a vital eco tourism venue located about 10 km east of the south coast town of Tangalla , Sri Lanka .
SOME FACTS ON TURTLES
- Turtles have lungs and must come to surface to breathe every thirty minutes. When they are sleep their bodies do not need as rush oxygen and they are therefore able to spend the entire night underwater.
- Turtles are known to migrate over distances. A Leatherback turtle tagged in French Guiana in South America was recovered in Ghana some 3800 miles away.
- Marine turles are believed to reach sexual maturity at thirty years and live to over eighty years old.
- Adult females are believed to return to the beach on which they hatched, to lay their eggs. Sea turtles prefer quiet, dark, undisturbed beaches where they will be less vulnerable to predators.
- Between 80 and 120 eggs are laid in each nest. The eggs are white and about the same size and shape as a table tennis ball. A single female may nest up to five times in a season.
- The temperature of the nest during incubation determines the sex of the hatchlings. When they hatch, the young turtles make their way straight to sea and swim constantly for up to 2 days. This is known as the "juvenile frenzy" and allows the hatchlings to escape the predator rich inshore waters. Every 1000 eggs laid are believed to yield only one mature adult sea turtle.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Do not kill turtles or eat turtle flesh.
- Do not eat turtle eggs and discourage others from doing so.
- Never buy "Turtle shell" or any other marine turtle products.
- Do not disturb nesting turtles.
- Minimize light disturbance on the beach at night.
- Do not throw litter on the beach, in rivers or in the sea.
- Assist in law enforcement by notifying the Department of Wildlife Conservation of any of enrichment the law.