Monday, May 21, 2012

Picking up turtles!!

How lucky can you be!! On our second night in Marissa we went to have dinner at one of the restaurants on the beach. The tables are set in the sand and everyone is barefoot including all the waiters. It was a beautiful moonlit night and we were celebrating the beauty of the island. Chatting to the waiter about various matters, I asked had he seen any turtle activity. He was far more interested in talking about Cricket than turtles, when he noticed the dog was sniffing at something and yelled. All the staff came down and using their cellphone lights and we scrambled around picking up baby turtles.

They were difficult to see and we were nervous about standing on them. With the help of other dinner guests we managed to pick up about seventy babies.  These were put into a basin of sea water.

It is amazing to think that sea turtles have been roaming the world's oceans for  about 190 million years. There are eight of these ancient reptiles left, five of the species visit the beaches of Sri Lanka.

We were very concerned about the future of these little creatures as they are used kept and bred for their shells and flesh. However the staff reassured us that they were fully aware of the Protection Ordinance which Sri Lanka is party to and anyone found to be violating the conditions of the law would be imprisoned or fined.
Early the next morning Warren went to check on these little babies and later I went along only to be assured that release time would be at 11:00 a.m.

11:00 sharp we were there....a bit like the release of Nelson Mandela. We had told a few tourists en route and when the big moment came it was so special. We released them one by one and watched as the waves washed over them and they started out on their long journeys.

Farewell little buddies, swim carefully and keep looking over your shoulders!!

How fortunate were we to be in the right place at the right time.
The sad reality is that while these babies swim for the next two days very few will survive and grow to be adult turtles.

Two more areas were discovered that morning where Mothers had laid their eggs and these have been marked with little twigs. I said a special little prayer that the protection would be maintained and that when these turtles are hatched they will make it back to the sea.

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