Last December when we were in Sri Lanka on vacation, we were able to visit the Coast Guard Turtle Conservation Project near Mirissa Beach. It was a quick stop as we were traveling along the southern coast of Sri Lanka from Unawatuna to Mirissa. It was such a cool experience to see such a variety of sea turtles up close. We got some pretty cool pictures, that we would love to share with you.
Before the pictures though, a little bit more about the Coast Guard Turtle Conservation Project. The project was launched in September 2012 with the purpose of preserving and raising the awareness of sea turtle conservation. Apparently there are 8 different kinds of sea turtles, and Sri Lanka is home to five of the eight species, including: Green Turtles, Leatherbacks, Olive Ridleys, Hawksbills and Loggerheads. All five types regularly visit the sandy beaches near Mirissa Beach to lay their eggs and build their nests. Once the eggs are laid, the Coast Guard moves them to a safer area so that predators (especially humans) don’t get their hands on them. Apparently, over 800 eggs are buried at the site of the hatchery! Once the eggs do hatch, the Coast Guard then releases them back into the sea. They also house a couple of older sea turtles that have been injured and wouldn’t be able to survive back in the sea.
Here’s a few of my favorite pics:
This is a picture of one of the hatcheries. They put little signs by each set of eggs to keep them organized.
Here’s a closer look at the signs in the hatchery. You can see that it is not uncommon for a sea turtle to lay over 100 eggs at a time!
Once they hatch, they look like this:
Here’s another fun picture with the little sea turtle lifting his head out of the water to check us out! They were so tiny and a ton of fun to watch while they were swimming around. I could watch them swim around for hours!
Here is an adult sea turtle who is missing one of this front flappers.
Another injured adult sea turtle:
I really like this super close up pic of this turtle!
Here are a few fun facts that I learned about sea turtles during our visit:
- Out of every 1,000 eggs that are laid, it’s believed that only 1 of them will grow into a mature, adult sea turtle.
- Female turtles could lay eggs up to 5 times a season.
- Adult female turtles are believed to lay their eggs on the same beach where they were hatched when they were a baby.
- About 80-120 eggs are typically laid on each nest.
We were hoping to do some volunteering with the Conservation Project during our visit, however volunteers were not needed during our time at Mirissa Beach. It was still super fun place to visit and we highly recommend that people check it out during their next trip to Sri Lanka. It is an excellent place to witness such amazing sea creatures!