Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exploring Bentota - Turtle Breeding Farm

On the second day of our vacation we decided to explore Bentota and see what else there was to do besides lazing on the beach, swimming in the ocean and sunbathing. Cab drivers in Bentota double up as guides and tour operators. The cabs are fairly decent and air conditioned. We arranged for one of these to take us on a guided tour for $ 20 ( Sri Lankan Rs 2000).  We were promised a tour of the region - about 4 hours. If you are a good negotiator, you could pay as low as $10. Our first stop was the Turtle Breeding farm on the outskirts of Bentota.
Young Hatched Turtles
The work being done at this breeding farm on conservation of these endangered animals is commendable. Turtles come onto the beaches to lay their eggs in the sand. The greatest danger to the young turtles is when the eggs hatch and the young ones move towards the ocean. Very few survive as most are picked up by hawks and crows and the ones that do make it to the ocean get eaten up the big fish. As part of the conservation efforts, the hatchery picks up the eggs and releases the young turtles into the sea only after the turtles are at least 2 years old and can look after themselves.Loggerhead Turtle
There is a small payment of $2  to be made as entry fee to visit the Turtle Farm. The hatchery has different species of turtles - these include the Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and the rare Albino Turtle.
Hawksbill Turtle
Albino Turtle
The hatchery has turtles of various ages. There are some which are over 20 years old- these are those turtles that have lost a limb or have some other disability which would make it impossible for them to survive outside. Turtles can live upto over 100 years of age.
At the end of the tour, you could buy some handicrafts that the centre sells which go towards funding of this effort.

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