Sunday, January 15, 2012

Turtles of Sri Lanka

Monica

So in the short time between my last post and now I went and got married, and made a trip to Sri Lanka with my new bride. I don't think I'll get the time to blog about all the places we went to, but I couldn't resist talking about our most wonderful encounter with Green Sea Turtles at the Hikkaduwa beach.

This photo is of one of two turtles we saw at the beach. Both of them are apparently so regular that the locals have given them names, Rosie and Monica. The two seemed so comfortable with humans that they almost behaved like dogs, accepting sea-weed from swimmers, approaching humans and swimming around them. This one swam so close to me that at one point she propelled herself by pushing me with her flipper.

While swimming with the big turtles was beautifully life-affirming, learning about these turtles at a nearby hatchery was sobering. They are still hunted both for their flesh and because there are curious superstitions around them. People believe that eating turtle meat extends their lifespans and makes their skins stronger. However, there are a couple of hatcheries that conserve by competing in this market. They buy out the eggs from the locals and release the hatchlings into the sea. This one is a day-old Olive Ridley Turtle.
OliveRidleyHatchling
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