Turtle Hatcheries

s far as the Department is concerned the Turtle Conservation Project (TCP) is the sole organisation that is authorised to run turtle hatcheries in Sri Lanka.

However there are a number of private individuals who have taken up this activity as a business venture. Some have the cooperation, collaboration and funding from external organisations and various Non Governmental Organisations. Most of them are located in the Kosgama, Induruwa and Balapitiya areas.

Under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, it is an offence to kill, wound, harm or keep a turtle in possession, sell or expose for sale any part of a turtle, or to destroy or take turtle eggs.

LeatherbackTurtle

LeatherbackTurtle” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

On the other hand, the Director General of Wildlife can authorise turtle hatcheries to be operated, under the existing legislation, for the purpose of conservation and research.

However these hatcheries, if run scientifically, cannot make a profit, since the hatchlings have to be allowed to get into the seas soon after hatching and not kept back for exhibition purposes.

These hatcheries ensure the protection of the eggs that are laid on the beaches close to the hatchery. In fact some of these hatcheries buy turtle eggs from the local people who collect the eggs as soon as they are laid. This is good in that it ensures that a maximum number of the eggs that are laid hatch out.

Once they hatch out the hatchlings are taken and kept in cement ponds or tanks so that they can be shown to the tourists as and when they arrive. In the natural process the hatchlings, as soon as they emerge through the sand, head out directly to the sea, which will be their habitat for the rest of their lives. It is believed that in going straight to the sea from their nests the location of the beach of their origin is implanted in their brain. This helps them to come back to the same waters to breed and the females to the same beaches to lay their eggs. If the hatchlings are taken and put in tanks and prevented from going directly to the sea, they will not have their origins implanted in their memory since they would be disoriented. In addition if the hatchlings are kept too long in the hatcheries, they will not be able to find their food quickly enough once they get to the sea.