Sea turtles in the East coast of Sri Lanka: An emerging conservation success story.
University Of Peradeniya
Gajaba Ellepola, Samitha Harischandra And Dhanushka Mahanama
East coast rookeries were identified in 2005. At that time five species of turtles were nesting in the area and their populations were drastically declining due to various reasons. However conservation efforts were taken and they have proven to be successful up to now. This study aims to find out the status of the conservation efforts and increase the base biological knowledge on marine turtles.
A 4km stretch of beach from Helawa-Komari where a turtle conservation program was ongoing was selected as the study site. Daily monitoring of the protected beach was done during the nesting period for two years. Species composition, mortality, nesting density, biological data on the size and weight of the nesting adult turtles, eggs and emerging hatchlings were recorded.
Among the five species nesting 61% were Olive ridley turtles. Mortality rates have declined compared to 2005 by reducing the wild boar attacks to less than 1%, and poaching to 0%. Beach erosion causes lost of nests substantially. Nesting density is higher in the region and hatching success is 54% which is a great improvement compared to 2005 where hatching success was 8%.
Threats to turtles are identified and immediate actions can be taken. By comparing the data within two years we can estimate the health and mortality of nesting turtles in the East coast, so that further conservation plans can be implemented. This study shows that Komari-Helawa beach provides a significant nesting site for turtles and highlights the need to declare it as a sanctuary.