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Kiara's Amazing Travels

Turtle Time!!

SRI LANKA | Friday, 7 January 2011 | Views [1420]

After around five days or so getting to know all the children at the orphanage we decided we should go and see some of the country. We decided to travel down south and head to the beaches of Bentota, the home of the turtle hatcheries.

The train ride down to Bentota was far different to some of the crowded sleeper trains we experienced in India. As the train ambled through the country side we were indulged with some fantastic views of the landscape. Endless fields of green rice paddies surrounded by luscious palm trees with rolling mountains in the back ground, then as we got closer to the beach and the train travelled parallel to the coast we looked over the white sand beaches Sri Lanka had to offer!

After a quick breakie we headed down to the beach which was practically deserted (which was very surprising because it was actually quite a nice beach)  compared to the beaches of Goa that we relaxed on only around a week earlier. After a quick splash in the water it was time to head to the turtle hatcheries about 10kms down the road.

At the hatchery we explored around and saw turtles at all stages of their lives, from the eggs about to be hatched in a few days to a 100KG albino turtle. This particular albino turtle that they nick name “lucky” was actually only a few years old when the tsunami hit the coast of Sri Lanka, luckily someone grabbed this rare creature and headed for the hills, the rest of the hatchery though was not so lucky.

We got chatting to the bloke who worked there and he told us to come back at around 7 that night and we could help release some of the three day old hatchlings into the sea.  After filling in the time seeing a local spice plantation nearby we returned to the hatchery eager to help these little fellas into a life of freedom in the wild!

These tiny turtles that fit neatly into the palms of our hands flapped their flippers in the air as we held them, as if they excited that they were about to head out into the massive ocean. When we released them they made their way slowly across the sand towards the tiny waves rolling in. When they got close enough to the waters edge the tiny waves engulfed the little fellas and then they were gone, tumbling out towards the coral reef. Gee I sure do hope that my little turtle “Donatello” is one of the 10% that will make it to see adulthood.

We were about to get a tuk-tuk home when the bloke from the hatchery told us that the last few nights big turtles from the wild had started coming into the beach to lay their eggs and that if we were willing to wait around for a few hours we might just be lucky enough to see one!

Obviously we decided there was no way we were going to miss the chance to see something like this so we stuck around bubbling with excitement..... 4 hours later we were no longer excited and decided to call it a night.  Ahhh well it was worth a try, you can’t win them all ey?

Just as we jumped into our tuk-tuk to head home our new friend from the hatchery got a call on his mobile, “tonight is your lucky night! A huge turtle has just come ashore!”  We ran back to the beach in excitement to see a crowd of locals around a big shadowy figure. The locals explained we had to stay behind the turtle so it wouldn’t see us as it dug its hole for its eggs, because if it spotted us it would decide to head back out to sea and try again another night.

After around half an hour the turtles hole was complete and it started laying its 120 eggs. The locals all sprinted in to our amazement and they explained once it started laying it couldn’t stop and we were free to take photos and watch all we liked. These locals collected the eggs to sell to the hatcheries for about 10c each. We were defiantly surprised when they suggested that we get down on our guts and grab out some eggs straight from underneath this massive monster of a turtle. I got down on my stomach and crawled up behind this huge creature, that they estimated to be 70 years old and tip the scales at about 300KGS. Because the poor turtle couldn’t look behind it, it had no idea I was taking the eggs literally as they were falling. Fluid from the turtles vagina was dripping all over my hand and the eggs below, disgusting as this was it still did not take away from the magic of seeing something so natural and something that so few people probably get to see first hand.

“Kiara you’ve got to try this, its like something from natural geographic”

So kiara was next down, fishing the eggs out as fast as the turtle could lay them. This went on for about 45 minutes untill the locals had collected all of the 120 eggs the turtle had just laid! Where this turtle stored all of these eggs I still have no idea because the basket of eggs was huge!

The turtle rested for a couple of minutes (As I would too after giving birth to 120 babies) before covering its hole with sand to protect all of its freshly laid eggs from any preditors that would want to steal her babies. Little did she know all the eggs were already in a basket and would be at the turtle hatchery by the morning.

Matt

xx

This was probably one of the more amazing things ive been lucky enough to experience on this trip and defiantly something that I will never forget!

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