Sri Lanka is one of the world’s major biodiversity hotspots, and a chief concern for the island is the conservation of its wildlife. The turtle hatcheries that you find dotted along the western coastline tackle the issue by investing in the survival of Sri Lanka’s turtles.
Left on their own, turtle eggs are susceptible and defenceless against predators; there is also a danger of the eggs being found by local fishermen and sold to poachers, who in turn sell them on the black market. The hatcheries combat this by buying the eggs from the fishermen at a higher price, encouraging them to keep bringing in the endangered eggs to a safer location.
Once at the hatchery, the eggs are kept safely buried in sand until they emerge from their shells, when they are moved and placed into tanks for the first few days of their lives. This gives them to opportunity to grow stronger before they are released back to the dangers of the sea, increasing their odds of survival. Several species of turtles are saved in this way. At sunset, you can witness the baby turtles being set free on the beach and watch them make their way back to the ocean. Visitors are asked to be mindful of the process of returning baby turtles to the sea. Loud noises are not allowed, nor are bright lights and flash photography; the baby turtles can confuse the lights for the moon over the ocean, which hinders them from being able to return home.