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release hatchling In Sri Lanka, tourists are charged to release newly hatched turtles. These hatchlings will have little chance of survival.

Cashing in on conservation

Awareness of the threats to the survival of turtles has led to the establishment of many projects which seek to protect turtle nests by hatching the eggs in protected enclosures, known as hatcheries. Well run conservation projects can ben efit from the support of tourists; unfortunately some of these projects are run to very poor standards and can be little more than a good source of income for local entrepreneurs.

Hatcheries often pay villagers to collect eggs either directly from a turtle as it lays its clutch or by digging up a recently made nest. The eggs are then re-buried in a secure area. Removing eggs from natural sites is fraught with diffi culties and if not done carefully can destroy a turtle's chances of hatching and surviving.

digging up eggs Collecting eggs from natural nests to hatch them in protected sites needs to be strictly controlled and can sometimes do more harm than good.
Some hatcheries keep newly hatched turtles in water tanks and charge tourists to view the young turtles and release them to the sea. In their natural state, turtles are programmed to hatch from their nests at night and swim non- stop as far out to sea as possible. Turtles that are left in tanks for any length of time quickly waste all their energy swimming around in circles so that by the time they are released it is virtually impossible for them to swim any further. In addition, most tourists are encouraged to release turtles in broad daylight when they easily fall victim to predators.



Kept on display for the benefit of tourists, newly hatched turtles use up all their energy swimming around in water tanks when they should be swimming out to sea.

Turtle friendly tourism

  • Hatchery projects can play a valuable role in areas where the majority of eggs in natural sites would otherwise be stolen and sold at markets. However all projects should show evidence that they follow strict conservation guidelines.
  • Tourists should not visit any hatcheries where turtles are displayed in tanks and should never pay money to release young hatchlings.

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WSPA's campaign booklet - Turtle Alert! has been adapted for the WWW by EuroTurtle, which is a Web based project by MEDASSET International (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles), Exeter University (UK) and the Biology Department of King's College,Taunton, UK. EuroTurtle is Europe's first Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation Web Site for Science and Education.

Copyright © 1997, WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).
These pages are the intellectual property of WSPA.
Permission to copy these materials must be obtained from WSPA.