Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project
Rekawa Beach - sea turtle nestling
At Rekawa Beach, the Turtle Conservation Project provides tourists a rare opportunity to see the giant creatures clamber onto land for nestling. Rekawa Turtle Sanctuary is not only one of the best locations to observe sea turtles in Sri Lanka but also in the world. Guided tours take place at night regularly.
Marine Turtle Life Cycles
The life cycle of sea turtles is as follows:
1. After returning to their own birth place, females lay 5 nests per season, containing about 100 eggs each.
2. Hatchlings race towards the sea as quickly as possible, avoiding to fall prey to other animals.
3. The juvenile turtles spend their first few years moving on ocean currents.
4. After a few years offshore, they migrate back to coastal waters to feed around coral reefs.
5. After reaching sexual maturity within 15 to 35 years, turtles migrate vast distances to return to their birth place.
6. In between nesting years females migrate forth and back between feeding grounds and beaches of oviposition.
Sea Turtle Nestling at Rekawa Beach
After arriving at the beach to lay eggs, turtles show this typical nesting behaviour:
1. Female turtles first dig a body pit for themselves.
2. Then they continue to dig an egg chamber
3. They need some time for laying eggs
4. Afterwards they cover the egg chamber with sand
5. They also cover and hide the body pit before returning to the sea
Sea turtles in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has the privilege of having five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles nestling at the island’s shores.
Loggerheads are distributed throughout the world. They grow up to one 90 or even 110 cm in length and then weigh aprroximately 135 kg, large individuals up to 190 kg. Loggerheads are primarily carnivores, they feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Their English name “Loggerhead” refers to their large muscular set of jaws, ideal for crushing molluscs and crustaceans.
Adult Hawksbills commonly weigh about 50 kg and measure up to 90 cm. They got their English name from the narrow birdlike beak, which can be used to catch animals even in small crevices. The Hawksbill Turtle is listed critically endangered. For centuries people in all parts of the world have killed them for their beautifully patterned “tortoise shell”.
Olive Ridley Turtle
The Olive Ridley is the smallest of the sea turtles. The adults weigh less than 40 kg and measure only 65 cm in length. Olive Ridleys are omnivorous, feeding on both crustaceans and marine vegetation. The species is endangered because many populations depend on only a
small number of beaches suitable for nestling.
Green Turtles reach an average length of about one metre and can weigh up to 230 kg. This is the species preferred for “turtle soup”, which is a delicacy in many parts of the world. The fat under their shell, which is used to make soup, is of a a greenish colour, this is how the species got ther English name “Green Turtle”. Interstingly, adults becomee herbivores feeding mainly on marine vegetation, whereas young Green Turtles are predominantly carnivores.
The leatherback sea turtle, also called lute turtle or trunk turtle, is the largest turtles at all. The adults’ average size is more than one metre, up to 1.75 metres. The largest specimen ever found reached 2.1 m, with a weight of 650 kg. The turtle's English name refers to the leathery texture of its carapace. Leatherbacks mainly feed on jellyfish, they need up to 200 kg per day. Leatherback sea turtles are unique among reptiles being able to maintain high body temperatures partly using endothermic metabolic processes.