Sri Lanka Sea Turtle Exploitation Tourist Report

Sea turtles are a great draw for tourists in Sri Lanka. ‘Hatcheries’ or ‘Projects’ appear to be places where they are being cared for – but are they really?

This report from Jon, from Oxfordshire UK, on a turtle project in Bentota, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is a lovely country, but this felt like exploitation of the sea turtles.

Local people are taking eggs from the beach and putting them into hatcheries. They are called ‘sea turtle projects’ to encourage tourists to come and give money. The premise is that it’s a good thing for the animal but in my view it’s the opposite. It’s very dangerous for the animals.

Adult sea turtles are kept in very small concrete tanks, 10, 20m away from sea front. They are just 1.5m square with very little sea water inside.

Hatchlings are also kept in tanks. We witnessed dead ones; others swimming around and being kept for tourists to come and hold. Not a very pleasant experience.

I think it’s more about misinformation and not being educated about what they are doing rather than deliberately hurting the animals. But it is about making money.

It’s something where a lot of tourists could get swept up into it, especially tourists with children who want to have a good photograph. But it’s seriously bad for the creatures involved.

It was very distressing to myself, but wouldn’t necessarily be noticed by other tourists. People perhaps think they are doing good by helping the turtles.

To read research into this issue from 2013, click here. For research from 2001 click here.

To read more about animals used for tourist photographs, see our RIGHT-tourism No Photos, Please! campaign here.