Sea Turtle Conservation in Bentota South, Sri LankaPosted on Jun 06 in Sea Turtle Conservation, Sri Lankaby ShelynPrint
No one would ever forget the worst ever tragedy in Sri Lanka history which happened in 2004. The most powerful earthquake in 40 years erupted under the Indian Ocean near Sumatra on Dec 26, 2004, caused deadly waves to crash ashore in nearly a dozen countries. Sri Lanka being one of them, with more than 40,000 dead and staggering 2.5 million people displaced. It was the worst human disaster in Sri Lanka history.
It has been reported that severe damage has been inflicted on ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, forests, sand dunes, rock formations, animal and plant biodiversity and ground water. The environmental impact will take a long time and significant resources to assess. Hence, it’s important these areas bounce back and regain the enormous biodiversity they once retained.
Our driver, Nana, took us to one of the many wildlife conservation centres in Sri Lanka, Sea Turtles Conservation in Bentota South.
It’s one of the research projects in Bentota South
The conservation centre is rather small with the area of about 1,500 square meters. It doesn’t look like a government project by judging its setup, facilities and the staffs. The entrance fee was kinda expensive, about USD 5 per person. I hope the money is really solely dedicated to protecting sea turtles through research, education, advocacy and protection of their habitats.
A pool with thousands of 1 DAY OLD turtles!
The small pool was swarming with uncountable little turtles. Can you imagine they are only 1 Day Old?
Could they get any cuter?
According to the guide, these turtles will be released to the ocean once they are 1 week old.
The largest sea turtle in the conservation centre. It wasn’t as large as the sea turtle I spotted during my diving trip in Sipadan Island.
Sea turtle’s egg. It felt like a perfect ping pong ball soft and leathery.
The highlight of the trip was this White Turtle, she was so gorgeous!
In fact it looked creepy at first, but after awhile I just thought that it was a gorgeous thing and it was very rare.
The white sea turtle has to be protected in the conservation site because it wouldn’t survive in the wild without its color to camouflage it from predators. I tried to google White Sea Turtle hoping to study its origin and background but the google search gives very little information about it. I guess white sea turtle must be extremely rare.
How many eggs do sea turtles lay?
Depends on the species. Average for loggerheads and greens are about 100-110 ping-pong ball sized eggs. Leatherbacks lay about 90 tennis ball sized eggs. All sea turtle eggs are leathery and somewhat soft so they dent instead of breaking.
How big do sea turtles get?
Adult loggerheads average 200-250 lbs. Greens can way up to 500 lbs. Leatherbacks can get up to 1500 lbs (the biggest being recorded at 2000 lbs)
How big was the largest sea turtle ever recorded? The largest species of sea turtle was the Archelon, which measured 7 meters (about 21 feet) in length and lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Today, the largest living species is the leatherback turtle. Atlantic leatherbacks are slightly larger than the Pacific population. Leatherbacks measure, on average, 2 meters (6 feet) in carapace (shell) length. The largest leatherback ever recorded was a male found stranded on the Welsh coast in 1987. He measured almost 3 meters (9 feet) from tip to tail and weighed 970 kg (2,138 lbs).
How long do sea turtles live?
There has not been a turtle followed from emergence to natural death, so it is assumed that sea turtles can live 60 or more years depending on species. Onset of sexual maturity is also species dependent, but is typically around 20 years.
How long does it take the eggs to hatch?
Loggerheads and green eggs hatch in about 45-55 days. Leatherback eggs take a bit longer, reaching upwards of 75 days, sometimes longer.
How many of the eggs actually hatch?
A natural or in situ nest will have a hatching success rate of 80-100%, while a relocated nest will have a hatching success rate of 60-70%. Overall, only 1 in 1,000 to 10,000 sea turtles will live to maturity. Major predators after nest emergence are birds and fish.”
How do you tell the sex of sea turtles?
As hatchlings, you can’t tell by looking. As adults, males have a much longer tail than females, and a curved claw on each front flipper. Sand temperature affects gender: 29.6 degrees C during the middle third of incubation will produce a 50:50 gender ratio. A couple of degrees higher will produce all females and a couple of degrees cooler will produce all males.
Will a turtle nest more than once a year?
Yes, an individual loggerhead or green female will nest 2-3 times per year, typically at 2-3 week intervals. Leatherbacks will nest 2-3 times per year at 10 day intervals (approximately). She will not nest every year however, but rather every other year or third year. This will depend on how well they eat during the year/non-nesting season.
What do sea turtles eat and do they have teeth? Each species feeds on a diet specific to that species. For example, loggerheads feed mainly on hard-shelled organisms such as lobsters, crustaceans, and fish. Green turtles prefer sea grasses, while leatherbacks feed primarily on jellyfish. Hawksbills have a hawk-like beak that is used to cut through tough coral, anemones and sea sponges. Loggerheads have powerful jaws that crush shellfish and mollusks. Although green sea turtles’ jaws are serrated, all sea turtles’ jaws lack teeth. The leatherback’s jaw has 2 prominent ‘cusps’ on the upper jawbone, distinguishing it from the other turtles.
How long can a sea turtle hold its breath? And why do they drown? As sea turtles are air breathing reptiles, they need to surface to breathe. Sea turtles can hold their breath for several hours, depending upon the level of activity. A resting or sleeping turtle can remain underwater for 4-7 hours. Recent research has shown that some turtles can even hibernate in the sea for several months! However, a stressed turtle, entangled in fishing gear for instance, quickly uses up oxygen stored within its body and may drown within minutes.
Why are sea turtles endangered? Sea turtles once navigated throughout the world’s oceans in huge numbers. But in the past 100 years, human demand for turtle meat, eggs, skin and colorful shells have reduced their populations. Destruction of feeding and nesting habitats and pollution of the world’s oceans are all taking a serious toll on remaining sea turtle populations. Many breeding populations have already become extinct, and some surviving species are being threatened to extinction. Sadly, only an estimated one in 1 to 1,000 will survive to adulthood. The natural obstacles faced by young and adult sea turtles are staggering, but it is the increasing problems caused by humans that are threatening their future survival.
Why should humans protect sea turtles? There are two major ecological effects of sea turtle extinction: 1. Sea turtles, especially green sea turtles, are one of the very few animals to eat sea grass. Like normal lawn grass, sea grass needs to be constantly cut short to be healthy and help it grow across the sea floor. Sea turtles and manatees act as grazing animals that cut the grass short and help maintain the health of the sea grass beds. Sea grass beds are important because they provide breeding and developmental grounds for many species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Over the past decades, there has been a decline in sea grass beds. This decline may be linked to fewer numbers of sea turtles grazing. Without sea grass habitats, many of marine species would be lost. All parts of an ecosystem are important. If you lose one, the rest will eventually follow.
2. Beaches and dune systems do not retain nutrients well because of the sand, so very little vegetation grows on the dunes and no vegetation grows on the beach itself. Sea turtles use beaches and the lower dunes to nest and lay their eggs. Sea turtles deposit an average of about 100 eggs in each nest and lay between 3 and 7 nests during the nesting season. Along a 20-mile stretch of beach on the east coast of Florida, sea turtles lay over 150,000 lbs of eggs in the sand. Not every nest will hatch, not every egg in a nest will hatch, and not all of the hatchlings in a nest will make it out of the nest. The unhatched nests, eggs and trapped hatchlings are good sources of nutrients for the dune vegetation, even the left over egg shells from hatched eggs provide some nutrients. As a result, dune vegetation is able to grow and become stronger with the presence of nutrients from turtle eggs. As the dune vegetation grows stronger and healthier, the health of the entire coastal ecosystem becomes better. Stronger vegetation and root systems helps to hold the sand in the dunes and helps protect the beach from erosion. If sea turtles become extinct, dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and would de-stabilize the ecosystem, resulting in increased coastal erosion and reduced habitat for wildlife. Once again, all parts of an ecosystem are important, if you lose one, the rest will eventually follow.
Sea turtles are part of two ecosystems, the coastal system and the marine system. If sea turtles became extinct, both the marine and coastal ecosystems would be negatively affected. And because humans utilize the marine ecosystem as a natural resource for food and use the coastal system for a variety of activities, a negative impact to these ecosystems would negatively affect humans.