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An Insight to Turtle Species in Indian Ocean.

“Extinction” as it sounds is a word which gains much attention from scientists and communities of eco-friendly nature. Recently with the news concerning a
a rare species of white turtle worth over Rs.10 million rupees, been robbed from the Kosgoda Turtle Research Institute, attention towards turtle conservation projects augmented. Turtles have always been regarded as a species positioned in a higher strata in the process of evolution. The more we lose our concern towards extinct species, the more we harm the natural process of survival.
There are many species of turtles found near the coastal areas of Sri Lanka.

1. Loggerhead turtle

These specie grow normally up to 1m and a grown up loggerhead turtle would be around 180Kg in weight. They are commonly found laying eggs on the beach during the period of November-January. Once in a year these turtles are visible in areas such as Kosgoda and Rakawa near Hambantota in the Southern coastal area. These turtles are not that much threatened since their flesh is regarded as “harmful” to humans. Fortunately this factor has rescued them from human predators.

2. Hawksbill turtle

They are given this particular name because of the shape of their face which is narrowed at the end just like that of a hawk’s. They live in tropical waters hidden underneath the shadows of coral reefs. Hawksbills come to the coasts of Kosgoda and Bundala at night to lay eggs.
It should be highlighted that this specie is facing immense threats. They are not killed for their meat but for their beauty. Most of the people hunt them to get their shell which is beautifully marked with various eye-catching designs. Using this shell people make beautiful ornaments to be sold. Since the days of yore this hunting for hawksbill has been done. It is doubtful whether this is happening in the present day owing to the turtle conservation projects implemented throughout the coastal areas. The combs worn in hair which were used by the men of the upper class societies in the past were also made by turtle shell. There is enough historical evidence that we have exported turtle shells to foreign countries which has strengthened our mutual relationships with those countries.

3. Leatherback turtle

These are the largest turtle specie yet discovered. They are about 4m long and a fully grown turtle would weigh around 600kg. They wholly depend upon jelly fish. They could travel at least 4345km to find laying grounds. They have the ability to live even in the coldest waters since they have the ability to alter their body temperatures unlike other types of sea turtles.
A recent research conducted by a well-known turtle conservation project said that there are more than 100 species of leatherback turtles in the Indian Ocean. They are seen in the coast laying eggs in the months of October- February.
They are seen in Induruwa, Kosgoda, Rakawa, Uyangoda, Bundala, and Yala once a year.

4. Green turtle.

Their shell is in olive green color and round in shape. They are skilled enough to swim more than 40km per hour. These turtles are herbivores. They come to the coasts of Induruwa, Akurala, Yala, Rakawa and Amalangoda to lay their eggs. After arriving at the beach a single green turtle would lay 75-200 eggs and one egg would have a diameter of 40mm and a weight of 38g.
These green turtles have faced much danger owing to the desire of the people to consume their meat. Not only that, to get turtle oil is these green turtles are hunted down. It is reported that annually 1800 green turtles are inhumanely killed in the Indian Ocean.

5. Olive Ridley Turtle.

This is the smallest specie. They are around 65cm long and weigh around 40kg. The shell is dark brown in color. They eat wild sea plants and prawns. An important fact about these turtles is that they prefer to lay their eggs during the day time. In 1966 a Mexican scientist launched a project titled “Operation padre” to protect this specie. The laying eggs of these turtles is known as “Aribada” which means “The Arrival”.
It was found recently that in Kandakuliya area in Sri Lanka thousands of olive ridley turtles are killed.

Green-Turtle-2From the turtles living all around the world only 5 species are found here in Sri Lanka out of 7. Their names are listed above. Most of them are labeled as “endangered”. It is reported that millions of turtles are killed in the Indian Ocean annually. The presence of turtles has been a landmark in the process of evolution. They are older than humans in the evolution process. Yet owing to extinction they are facing a huge threat of being vanished from the entire planet. The turtle conservation projects in our country is doing the best they can to protect these precious specie. What we should ask ourselves is that are we doing our parts in giving a helping hand to these projects. Each and every citizen should open up their eyes and kindle their knowledge about this endangered specie so that as learned citizens we could contribute vehemently to help nature to prevail as it is; with no hindrance.

Ruvindra Sathsarani

Young Ruwindra joined Lanka Help Magazine as a writer in October 2013. She has a great desire to become a journalist. Her articles have been published in many national papers.

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