Apart from elephants Sri Lanka is also a great place for seeing turtles. The southern coast alone is spotted with multiple sanctuaries offering everything you’d want from a working sanucatry helping little turtles start life!
Some of the more recommended ones that I chose from include:
Hikkaduwa Turtle Sanctuary
Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project
Marine Turtles Protecting Centre
I visited the Kosgoda sanctuary in the end but reading online most offer similar facilities. I chose this firstly as it has received a Ceriticafte of Excellence from TripAdvisor but also it is a family run organisation since 1988, helping local and international people protect turtles! Although I didn’t go to volunteer, I would recommend looking into the place as they were friendly, welcoming and helpful with all the needed facilities.
Most places are set up with main aim of monitoring local sea turtle activity and conserving the local nesting sites. Especially affected by the 2004 Tsunami it is amazing how much and what they do to help preserve the hatching sites along the coast. Throughout the tour it is clear that they want to make the public more aware of how endangered these beautiful creatures are and just how important it is to help protect them before it is too late.
So why are they there? Well if you’ve ever held a baby turtle you’ll understand how vulnerable they are! A very small number make it to adults even with the help of these places.
What to expect:
Olive Ridley Turtle
On the beach, the place I visited had several tanks/pools FULL of baby turtles only days old. There will also be cornered off areas where the eggs are left to hatch before being raised in those tanks for a few days prior to freedom. Almost sad to know that approx 5% will make it to adults but thats better then 1% in the wild! Other tanks contained those rescued/injured and m0re rare cases such as albino/blind turtles being helped back to health. It is definitely a different experience from swimming in the wild with them but different in a good way! I think the smile of my face says it all!
You should expect to be paying approx 3000 srilankan rupees for entrance and tour of the places which can sometimes be a bit pricey but majority will be going to help conserve the turtles, so worth every penny! There is normally tuk-tuk or rickshaw drivers dotted around in numbers nearby to transport shouldn’t be a worry. I would recommend that if you do choose this form of transport that you organise/agree on a set price beforehand to avoid being overcharged (easily happens!).
These places work on the basis of donations, fundraising and volunteers year after year. The challenge of rebuilding it all after the Tsunami 2004 for one has shown how much they have taken it on as their responsibility to preserve this beautiful country and wildlife.
If you visit or volunteer at any of these sanctuaries, I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions!