Turtle Farm in Paraliya ?A Labour of Love

Sea turtles, despite being known to live upwards of a hundred years, are one of the most endangered animals in existence. Over 85% of sea turtle species are nearing extinction while many of the sub-species depicted in sketches and records of previous centuries have now vanished forever, having been killed by humans. The nesting places share more content for sea turtle eggs are also dwindling, as urbanization and pollution affect more and more coastal lines; it is very hard for the animals to find suitable beaches in which to lay their eggs in the first place.

With its mostly pristine beaches, warm, gentle waves and balmy climate, the coastline of Sri Lanka is one of the idyllic places for nesting sea turtles eggs. It is no wonder then, that five of the seven recorded sea turtle sub-species seek out the sands of the Paradise Isle to birth their young. These gentle animals are deep-sea dwellers and only seek the shores to lay their eggs. Once they are laid, however, the mother buries the eggs securely and heads out once more to sea.

The journey to and fro from the deeps to the shores is fraught with danger for both mother and babies. Females are frequently caught in fishing nets or are hunted by poachers who target them for their meat and exotic, hard-ridged shells. The eggs left in the sand are mobile strike hack cheats also sometimes taken and sold or eaten by the people of the coastal towns. Once hatched, the newborn turtles are prone to falling into the hands of predators both human and animal.

Enter the Turtle Farm and Hatchery of Paraliya, the first of its kind to have taken a long-term initiative to safe-guard these helpless creatures. This is found only a short distance away from the beautiful southern coastal town of Hikkaduwa, known as one of the prime holiday destinations in the country. First founded by Mr. B. K Ariyapala Shantha in 2000, the farm was taken over by his son, helped by the rest of his family after the senior gentleman passed away.
However, the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 saw tragedy strike. The areas north of Hikkaduwa were devastated by the unprecedented natural disaster, and Mr. Nimal Shantha returned home from his day job in Colombo to find that his mother, sisters, wife and children had all perished. Giving up his job to work full-time on the conservation work his family had loved, he restored the farm with monetary assistance from aid agencies in the UK, Denmark and Germany and continues to run it in memory of his loved ones.

The Turtle Farm offers payment for the locals to bring in the eggs and turtles they find, in order to dissuade them from selling them. They then undertake safeguarding the eggs until they hatch, which usually takes anywhere from 48 to 60 days. The baby turtles are immersed in tanks and are not fed for 3 days, until any residue ingested from within the eggshell is cleansed from their bodies. They are then fed bits of fish for the first week afterward. Once they share this site learn how to dive down into the tank to retrieve their food, they are released back into the sea where they learn to find their own food among the coral reefs.

Visitors can expect a tour of the premises and an education in the process of turtle rehabilitation and its importance. They are also allowed to touch and observe the turtles in the tanks, from babies that fit in the palm of the hand to bigger animals whose shells are the size of dinner plates.

This is a mainstay attraction for eco-tourists and nature lovers staying at hotels in Hikkaduwa. Coral Gardens Hikkaduwa is locally famous among Sri Lanka beach hotels as favourite holiday retreat that boasts comfortable accommodations and ideal access to explore the wonders of Sri Lanka鎶?coral reefs and other coastal fauna.

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