Sunday, December 27, 2009

Paraliya Turtle Farm - A Reminiscent of Dec 26th Tsunami

Just several weeks back, I met up with a few old friends and we hitched a ride to Hikkaduwa. On our way back we thought of stopping by at one of the Turtle Hatcheries near Paraliya, just close by where the horrifying tsunami engulfed a train full of passengers.

We went inside the small place, there were around four water tanks which housed few turtles, its owner Nimal guided us through various types of turtles that are there and how hes managing the whole project with donations from visitors. Running a Turtle Hatchery is no easy task, according to him he spends around Rs 30,000 monthly just to buy fish for the turtles that are being kept. He buys turtle eggs from locals who often sell the eggs as a local delicacy.

"Sam the beautiful Green Turtle"

"The eggs need to be brought back immediately after they are dug up otherwise it would be useless and would not hatch". He explained in sinhala showing us a bag full of eggs that he has bought in the morning which he cannot use as they have been kept much longer than they are supposed to.

What was more moving was his story around the Turtle Hatchery. Before 26th December 2004 he was an AC Technician working in Colombo and the fateful day turned his life upside down. The tsunami took away his mother,two sisters, wife and three small children. He returned from Colombo to find out that everything he had including his family, house and the hatchery (which was run by his sister) had washed away to the sea.

Many foreigners and several organizations helped him in rebuilding the hatchery and there are few turtles named after several foreigners who have made contributions. He explains that his knowledge in these turtles are not profound as his sister who was even fluent in two more languages, but showing care and compassion to these animals have helped him much in recovering.

Even now hes having difficulty in maintaining the hatchery as he is not receiving many visitors to the place. If you happen to drive pass Paraliya try to stop by this small hatchery and make a contribution, he also welcomes any efforts in helping him out in cleaning the place out. If you are a student organisation or a group willing to contribute some time and effort in conservation projects you could help Nimal out with his work.

"Lets save more of these cute fellas.."

You can find more information aobut the Paraliya Turtle Farm from here

or contact him from this number
94 777 292738


  1. I dunno WHY ppl still eat turtle eggs!! So ignorant!!

  2. Thanks for the writeup on the turtle hatchery. I'll make sure to visit next time I'm in the area. :)

  3. Dear Friends,

    Turtle farms in Sri Lanka are not for conservation, but for money making. Turtle hatcheries help for the conservation as those protect eggs from collectors. But, keeping the hatchlings for long time periods in tanks do not help conservation in any way. Usually, hatchlings have remaining yolk sac (enough energy) for 2-3 days, when it comes out from the nest. That means if it moved in to the sea, it doesn't need food until it reach the deep sea. By keeping hatchlings for weeks or months, and release them in a later day is not scientifically approved method of conservation. Most dangerous activity here is these farms allow tourists to release these hatchlings to the sea. Usually at the day time. This cause high mortality as hatchlings are more vulnerable to predator attacks at the day time. Naturally, hatchlings come out from the nest and move into the sea at night avoiding predators and strong sun.

    And most of these farms keep adult turtles in small tanks. I don't understand why they keep adults. So far there were no report of captive breeding of turtles in Sri Lanka. It is obvious that they keep turtles (both adults and hatchlings) in tanks just to show them to tourists and make money.

    If they want to conserve turtles they don't need to keep the animals in tanks and spend money for fish. If they keep the nests in the beach (instead of keeping in sand tanks), hatchlings will walk in to the sea as they come out, in the natural way.

    This whole process is illegal in Sri Lanka although department of Wildlife Conservation do not do anything against this. If anybody want to keep wild animals including turtles (Which are threatened in the world) it is necessary to have a permission from the Department of Wildlife conservation. But none of these farms don't have such permissions. Since these farms are mentioned as turtle hatcheries, they can hide the real situation and make money.

    My personal opinion is these farms cause a harm rather than a conservation.

    (University of Colombo)

  4. wow! :/ there are still a few good men left in this world!

  5. @ chinthaka

    well quite true what you said...but what i gained from the Paraliya farm was exactly the same thing you've mentioned...According to them there are only few licensed turtle hatcheries in Sri lanka and they need to obtain permission from the wild life conservation department.

    There are around 4 two fit turtles and two more injured ones in those tanks obviously the injured ones cannot be released because they will fall prey to predators instantly. the others of course are held captive but in a way they help visitors to gain more knowledge and understanding about the creatures..

    Um sure what you say is true, but a proper licensed hatchery to my understanding carry out proper conservation techniques to safeguard the animals...For example they don't have any hatchlings kept; only a few to show to any visitors...(others are released to the sea as soon as they are hatched)

    Thank you for the valuable insights...