Marine turtles have been roaming the world’s oceans for about 190 million years; and today, seven different species of sea turtles grace our ocean waters, from the shallow sea grass beds of the Indian Ocean, to the colorful reefs of the Coral Triangle, and even the sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific. Five of these species are regular visitors to the sandy beaches of Sri Lanka to nest.
Unfortunately, marine turtles are hunted and butchered for their flesh and shells, throughout the world. Even female turtles that have hauled themselves up the beach to nest are killed and their eggs are stolen. Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners and nearly all extant species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered.
While protected under international law which prohibits international trade of sea turtle products in most of the countries, which are signatories to the CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species); slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change too has an impact on turtle nesting sites– as rising land and sea temperatures can alter sand temperatures, which then affect the sex of hatchlings.
Recognizing the necessity of halting the decline of sea turtles, Jetwing Lighthouse is committed to working towards the recovery of the species – we are working to secure environments in which turtles can survive into the future. Our work on sea turtles focuses on five species, namely Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles.
From experiences, preliminary researches and studies carried out during the last few years it has been proven that most of these turtles regularly visit Jetwing Lighthouse hotel’s beach front for nesting and the coastline of Sri Lanka is considered one of the best places in the world for turtle nesting. However, we have also realized that there is less attention being paid to these marine turtles welfare and their conservation, and although it is one of the best places for turtles in Sri Lanka, there is no dedicated center for its conservation or awareness in Galle. Thus, the “Turtle Conservation Project” was initiated by Jetwing Lighthouse, with the support of local community, respective government organizations, village temples and several other organizations for their conservation and education.
For more information or if anyone wishes to support this project feel free to contact the hotel’s resident Naturalist – Mr. Anoma Alagiyawadu – Tel: + 94 91 2223744 (Office) or + 94 77 7265730 (Mobile).
Image credit: Anoma Alagiyawadu
Text reference: www.worldwildlife.org/species/sea-turtle