Turtles, a threatened species, face extinction in southern coast

Turtles living along the southern coastal area are facing a severe threat due to environmental reasons and human activities.

Wildlife officials are working hard to curb threats to turtle eggs from racketeers and animals such as dogs and wild boar.

In the Midigama area of Matara, between 15 and 20 dogs can be seen searching for turtle eggs in the beach, and between 200 and 500 eggs are eaten by them every day.

Importance of turtles

A threatened species, turtles belong to reptilia’s testudines family. Sri Lanka’s waters are home to five out of the seven turtles species. They are Olive Ridley Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherback Turtle. They are mostly seen in the Mirissa, Weligama, Habaraduwa, Hambantota, Angoda, Rekawa and Bundala areas.

Turtles play an important role in keeping the balance in the ocean ecosystems. 

Why turtles are important

The green turtle consumes sea grass, ensuring that the seabed gets enough sunlight and keeps the biological oxygen demand in check.

Protect coral reefs

The hawksbill turtle consumes the sponges that threaten coral reefs.

Make soil fertile

After turtle eggs are hatched, the remnant shells and etc. make the soil in the vicinity of the beach fertile.

Predator-prey relationship

Leatherback turtles and green turtles are the biggest in the turtle family. They consume jellyfish and helps keep the predator-prey relationship between jellyfish and fish eggs and invertebrates.

Sources of nourishment

Barnacles, algae and epibionts which live on the turtles, are sources of nourishment for various fish species.

Calcium to the ocean

After turtles feed on shellfish, what does not get digested provide much needed calcium to the ocean.

All these show that turtles render an immense service to the environment. Wildlife officials, who already do a commendable job, say both relevant authorities and the public too, should contribute, and that they have a responsibility to conserve the turtles.

- Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi – Hambantota

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