Holding a Turtle, during a Visit to a Turtle Hatchery
Holding a Turtle, during a Visit to a Turtle Hatchery

Sri Lanka is famous for its lovely beaches and amazing wildlife. Among the many types of wildlife found in Sri Lanka, turtles are indeed one of the most attractive and precious. Out of the 7 types of turtles in the world, the sea of Sri Lanka provides habitat to 5 types. Among the five turtle species found in the Sri Lankan ocean, three are endangered, one is vulnerable and one is critically endangered. They visit the Sri Lankan shores to nest. In fact, there is a high population of sea turtles on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. So, they are in need of conservation. And that is the place where the turtle hatcheries come on stage.

Baby Turtles! Yes, this might be the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear about turtle hatcheries. But believe us, there is much more you will experience if you visit the turtle hatcheries on this beautiful island. Continue reading to know all about the turtles and turtles hatcheries in Sri Lanka!

What are the Types of Turtles in Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka?

Before getting to know more about the amazing things you get to experience at turtle hatcheries of Sri Lanka, let us have a look at the five types of sea turtles you can find in the Sri Lankan sea.

They are as follows.

  1. Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  2. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  3. Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
  4. Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
  5. Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Continue reading to know more about these species!

1. Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Green Turtles are the most common type of turtle in the ocean of Sri Lanka. They got their name because of the color of fat found under their upper shell. They can grow to a maximum length of 1m and can weigh around 250kg. Green Turtles have a smaller head and a pair of large flippers.

Adult female Green turtles lay between 120-140 eggs at one time. Their eggs take up to 48 days to hatch. They lay eggs several times in one season. But they will only nest once every few years. Young turtles are carnivorous while the grown green turtles feed on marine vegetation.

2. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The Hawksbill Turtle is a rarer species of a turtle than the Green Turtle. It lives mainly around coral reefs and shallow lagoons. It consumes mainly sponges, fish, sea anemones, and jellyfish. Moreover, it has a narrow head and a hawk-like beak. These characteristics have given it its name ‘Hawksbill Turtle’.

It has a unique and beautiful shell, which can even cause danger to them because poachers kill them seeking this beautiful shell. However, the Hawksbill turtles are somewhat aggressive. Besides, they can grow up to 1m and it takes 53 days for their eggs to hatch.

3. Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)

It is a turtle species that is relatively small in size. It has a black heart-shaped shell that turns olive green in adulthood. And yes, they are named Olive Ridley because of their olive green shell.

It can reach a maximum size of 65cm – 70cm and its weight does not exceed 50kg. Besides, Olive Ridley Turtles nest once a year. Moreover, you can observe large groups of females coming all at once to nest. Many of them lay their eggs on Kosgoda Beach on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. It takes 47 days to hatch their eggs.

Olive Ridleys are omnivores. They eat crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and marine vegetation.

4. Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Loggerhead Turtles are red and brown in color. Further, they have a relatively large head as their name suggests. Moreover, it has a heart-shaped shell. It can grow up to 1m and weighs around 200kg.

The Loggerheads are carnivores and feed on mollusks and crustaceans. We can find them mostly in the ocean but sometimes in bays, lagoons, and salt marshes as well.

Female Loggerhead Turtles come to the shore for nesting. Their eggs take around 49 days to hatch.

5. Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

The Leatherback Turtle is the largest type of sea turtle in Sri Lanka. It grows up to two meters and weighs around 900kg. Leatherback Turtle has got its name due to its leathery appearance caused by thousands of bone plates. Besides, it has a teardrop-shaped body and long front flippers. These flippers and their hydrodynamic body shape make it easy for them to move through the water. They feed on small sea organisms. The hatching process of their eggs can take up to 49 days.

Since now we know in detail about the five types of these marvelous creatures found on the Sri Lankan coast, it’s time for us to see what interesting things we’ll get to experience on our visit to the turtle hatcheries. Scroll down!

Interesting Things to Do at Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka

Yes, as we mentioned earlier, there are many interesting things that you can do at turtle hatcheries. They are as follows.

  1. Observe the Spectacular Sea Turtles up close on Land
  2. Get Educated about these Wondrous Sea Turtles from the Guides
  3. Grab a Chance to Release Baby Turtles to the Ocean
  4. Hands-on Experience in Collecting Eggs
  5. See Handicapped and Rescued Turtles
  6. Take Part in Volunteer Service at Hatcheries
  7. Take part in a Beach Cleanup Campaign

You must be really excited to get to know about these interesting things you can do at the turtle hatcheries of Sri Lanka. Yes, let’s go and have a look!

1.   Observe the Spectacular Sea Turtles up close to the Land

You shouldn’t be surprised to know that the best place to see turtles up close is at the turtle hatcheries in Sri Lanka. You will meet all the five types of turtles found in the Sri Lankan ocean at these hatcheries. Simply, you can get this amazing opportunity to observe them up close and learn their features and characteristics from the guides.

Besides, these turtle hatcheries have sea turtles of all different sizes, types, and ages. So, you will get the treasure of seeing them all at once if you visit turtle hatcheries in Sri Lanka.

Also, if you visit a turtle hatchery, you can see incredible giant turtles resting in the tanks, or tiny baby turtles just out of their eggs. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many visitors. So, why would you miss this amazing opportunity on your next visit to Sri Lanka?

 2. Get Educated about these Wondrous Sea Turtles from the Guides

The second interesting thing you’ll get to do at the hatcheries is, get educated about sea turtles from the guides who are present there. Almost all the turtle hatcheries and sanctuaries in Sri Lanka have got very informative guides. They will provide you with a lot of information about these turtles.

In fact, you will get an explanation of their habitats, their physical characteristics, and even their food patterns. Further, you can also see posters and pictures of different types of sea turtles at the hatcheries. You can even see turtle track identification guides at the hatchery premises. They will also guide you to all the tanks where different kinds of turtles are put, and to the shore where the female turtles lay their eggs. Likewise, you will receive a good description of the different kinds of turtles found in the tanks.

The guides will also give you detailed information about the work they are doing in the hatcheries. Therefore, you can get to know almost everything about the sea turtles, their significance, and the services of the hatcheries. Besides, the guides will be more than pleased to answer any of your questions as well.

Apart from that, if you are an enthusiast about marine organisms, the turtle hatcheries and sanctuaries of Sri Lanka is the best place you can grab a great amount of knowledge and experience at the same time. So, visiting a turtle hatchery is simply a wonderful opportunity for you to enhance your knowledge about many things!

3. Grab a Chance to Release Baby Turtles to the Ocean

You will surely be amazed to see baby turtles at the hatcheries on the Sri Lankan coastline. How many times will this amusement multiply, if you get to hold a baby turtle in your hands and release it to the ocean? Yes, it will be just as exciting as you think.

In fact, releasing newly hatched baby sea turtles to the ocean is the most popular and exciting activity you can engage in while on your visit to the turtle hatcheries. At the same time, you will get the view of baby turtles using their tiny flippers to make their way to the ocean to find their forever home. This amazing experience will leave you with the satisfaction that you have contributed to the conservation of sea turtles.

You can inquire from the hatcheries about the days and times that they are releasing the baby turtles, and plan your visit during these times so that you will not miss this wonderful experience.

 4. Hands-on Experience in Collecting Eggs

Usually, the staff of the hatchery or the local fishermen collect the eggs of turtles. But if you visit the hatcheries during the period of nesting, and volunteer for a project, you will get this unique experience of collecting turtle eggs from the nests dug by the female turtles on the shores.

If you are a volunteer, you can take the responsibility of collecting the eggs and carrying them to the hatcheries safely, where the hatchlings coming out of these eggs are ensured with a high chance of survival.

5. See Handicapped and Rescued Turtles

While spending their lifetime in the ocean, some turtles face accidents and injuries. Turtle hatcheries consist of facilities to rescue and treat such animals.

In fact, there are many injured and disabled sea turtles in turtle hatcheries. Some are treated for injuries and some are subjected to surgeries. After treatments, the turtles are kept in the tanks of the hatchery until they are recovered. Once they are recovered, the adult turtles are released back to the deep sea using boats.

Usually, the staff at hatcheries are notified about the injured turtles by the locals. Also, the local fishermen will notify the hatcheries when they catch turtles in their fishing nets accidentally.

If you visit Sri Lankan turtle hatcheries, you will get to see these beautiful creatures and observe how they are being treated. At the same time, you get the chance to be a part of this service of conserving the turtle population.

 6. Volunteer Services at Turtle Hatcheries

Volunteering at a sea turtle hatchery will be an experience that will leave you with a lot of unforgettable memories. More than everything, you will get the chance to be a part of a great course on saving wildlife.

There are a number of ways that you can volunteer at turtle hatcheries. They include,

  • Keeping track of the female turtles who come out of the sea at night to lay eggs.
  • Collecting eggs from sea turtle nests and transporting them to the hatcheries safely.
  • Guarding the hatcheries to keep the eggs safe.
  • Releasing baby turtles to the sea.
  • Rescuing handicapped turtles.
  • Helping treat the injured turtles.
  • Cleaning tanks.

You can also volunteer for reconstructions and maintenance in the hatcheries. If you would like to make donations, you can do that at the hatcheries as well. This will help to keep their services running.

After all, volunteering at turtle hatcheries is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss out on your visit to this paradise island, because you get to be involved fully in saving sea turtles in Sri Lanka. Come and take this chance to be a part of the interesting sea turtle projects.

7. Take Part in a Beach Cleanup Campaign around Turtle Hatcheries

During your visit to the hatcheries, you might get a chance to find local beach cleaning campaigns. Beach cleanups are a much-needed thing to facilitate the nesting of sea turtles in Sri Lanka. It will create a preferable environment for the female turtle to lay eggs. So, while on your visit, you might be lucky enough to be a part of this good course and help save the turtle habitats of Sri Lanka.

Upon learning about the most exciting things you can do at turtle hatcheries of Sri Lanka, now let us see why turtle hatcheries are important for the conservation of sea turtles.

Importance of Turtle Hatcheries

As you might have understood, the major service provided by the turtle hatcheries is, protecting turtles by helping and facilitating their process of hatching. It is a continuous process starting from tracking where the female turtles lay eggs on the shore, to releasing days-old baby turtles to the sea.

During this time, many other tasks are carried out, including protecting the hatcheries, keeping hatchlings in the tanks for a few days, identifying disordered hatchlings, and treating them. So, to do all these activities, the initiation and maintenance of turtle hatcheries are really important.

Other than helping the hatching process, the hatcheries are involved in the rescue process of sea turtles, treating handicapped turtles, and educating the community. The eggs are shifted to the hatcheries to prevent predator attacks and human activities which are a great threat to the turtles. The eggs are kept in the hatcheries until they are well developed and hatched. This process will take approximately 45-60 days depending on the turtle species.

They also do various activities to create awareness among tourists and locals. Likewise, the ultimate goal of hatcheries is to ensure the safe survival of the sea turtles.

 Now let’s explore where we can find turtle hatcheries in Sri Lanka.

Where to Find Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka?

Since a high population of sea turtles are visible on the southern coastline of Sri Lanka, you can find many turtle hatcheries out there.

Some of the best turtle hatcheries are in coastal towns as follows.

If you are touring around these cities, you are sure to spot many turtle hatcheries as you pass the roads. If not, a tour guide or locals that you meet will help you find a turtle hatchery to visit.

The Convenience of Visiting Turtle Hatcheries

The best thing about the turtle hatcheries is that most of them are located around the main tourist attractions on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Therefore, allocating some time for a visit to a turtle hatchery while spending your time at these beautiful beaches will be very convenient.

The nesting season of sea turtles is between November and March. The hatching starts in February and lasts until the end of May. So, the best time to visit the hatcheries is from November to May. There is a chance that you will get to see turtle hatchlings outside this period as well, but it cannot be guaranteed.

You can simply locate a turtle hatchery and meet a local guide who will assist you in visiting the hatchery.

How much will it Cost to Visit a Turtle Hatchery?

An ordinary visit to a turtle hatchery will cost you between SLR 200 – SLR 1000. But this can vary depending on the place you visit, and the activities you are engaged in.

The Bottom Line

After all, the sea turtle hatcheries are a must-add travel destination to your travel bucket list. You will gain a whole lot of experience and knowledge. At the same time, you’ll get to be a part of a good course. Besides, even the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority has paid attention to improving the facilities at these turtle hatcheries. So, come, and visit the turtle hatcheries of this heavenly island of Sri Lanka. You’ll definitely fall in love with the beautiful turtles. Happy and safe traveling!