Monday, April 13, 2015
Sri Lanka: Baby Sea Turtles (Enough Said.)
It's Monday. And I know how you all feel about Mondays. So, to cheer you up, here are some pictures of newborn and baby sea turtles we held during a whirlwind visit to the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Hatchery and Conservation Project in Sri Lanka.
To protect turtle eggs from poachers and other predators on Sri Lankan beaches, the hatchery purchases eggs from fishermen at a higher rate than what they'd receive from selling them on at markets for consumption. The eggs are then brought back to the hatchery, where they incubate in the sand until they're ready to hatch and ... voila. Newborns are then released back into the sea as soon as possible (at night-time!), but the hatchery is also home to some sea turtles that haven't been so lucky in life: those that are maimed (e.g. amputees from fishing net accidents), blind, or have some other disfiguration which would prevent them from surviving in the ocean, are cared for at the hatchery for the rest of their lives.
The one I'm holding in my hand above was born that morning. I was told that she liked the heat of palms, so she kind of just stretched out sweetly on my hand and didn't move too much, except to squirm a bit here and there, her flipper curling slightly over the curve of my palm. Love.
I was so sad to put her back in her tank! I couldn't stop looking at the photos I'd taken when we climbed back into the car. I wanted to play with them for forever.
John's was a bit feistier - attempting to paddle his way across his palm. I'm not sure that I've seen anything cuter than this.
Sri Lanka is home to five species of sea turtles: the Green turtle (most common), the Loggerhead turtle (rare), the Hawksbill turtle (named for its narrow, bird-like beak, and very rare), the Olive Ridley turtle (endangered), and the Leatherback turtle (which is considered to be critically endangered). Aside from the eggs, which are bought and sold on the black market, turtles are often killed for their beautiful shells to make jewellery, hair slides, and combs (tortoiseshell, anyone? Yep, that's where they come from, sadly).
We saw some of these unimaginably gorgeous shells when we visited some of the older babies in their tanks, which were just about to be released back into the ocean.
Aren't their patterns beautiful? It's incomprehensible to me how anyone could kill such a sweet and gentle creature for consumption or vanity.
This sweet girl that John and I held was 17-months old, but already quite heavy! We were told to gently support her neck with our fingers, and she timidly, languidly, stretched her head out from under her shell to explore while we held her in amazement.
I'll leave you with my favorite shot - a newborn that was bewildered (and probably alarmed, poor thing!) to be taken out of the water, flippers flailing.
So, happy Monday.