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The Fortress that helps protect and preserve Sri Lanka’s endangered turtles

The Fortress that helps protect and preserve Sri Lanka’s endangered turtles

The most beautiful and enigmatic marine animals found in Sri Lanka’s Indian Ocean waters include five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, of which six are in danger of extinction.

All over the world, historical nesting beaches are being encroached upon, not least in Sri Lanka—which is why The Fortress Resort and Spa launched its turtle preservation project on the south coast near Galle.

Sri Lanka’s southern beaches are some of the world’s most important areas for sea turtles, which come ashore to lay their eggs throughout the year.

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Says a Fortress spokesman: “We are privileged to have some of the species nest on our beaches; Green Turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill, the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley.”

Guests at the luxury resort are encouraged to visit its turtle hatchery and take part in helping to protect and preserve these delightful sea creatures.

That includes helping the hatchlings reach the safety of the surf and onward out to sea during the first day of their long journey to adulthood in the open ocean.

The Fortress prides itself on “offering the luxury that guests deserve without compromising the earth’s natural resources”.

Says the spokesman: “We remain committed to serve as good stewards of the environment, ensuring that all activities respects local traditions and culture, restores natural habitats,conserves biodiversity and manages waste, water and energy.”

The five species of sea turtles found in Sri Lanka include the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).

Green Turtle

This is the most commonly found turtle in Sri Lanka. Their English name refers to the color of the fat found under their upper shell, which is unfortunately used to make turtle soup.

Hawksbill Turtle

The critically endangered Hawksbill is rarer than the Green Turtle, and is named after its narrow head and bird-like beak, which is used to catch animals hiding in small crevices.

Loggerhead Turtle

The Loggerhead is rare in Sri Lanka and is more commonly found on the East Coast of America. They are usually red and brown in colour and as its name suggests, is easily identifiable because of its large head!

Olive Ridley Turtle

This turtle is endangered because the population depends on the security of a small number of beaches found in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. They have been heavily hunted in the past for their meat and hide.

Leatherback Turtle

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The Leatherback reaches a maximum length of 3m and a weight of 750kg. Their unique flexible carapace and its seven ridges enable them to dive to depths of 1500m in search of their favourite food, the jellyfish!

Says Jayantha Jayawardene, reporting in the Daily News: “After the males reach the sea, and assuming they survive, they never return to land. But the females come back to the same beaches to lay their eggs, sometimes 20 or 30 years after they hatched.

“They always come in after dark. The female moves as far up the beach as possible to lay her eggs. This is to ensure that the water coming up with the tide does not reach the eggs and spoil them.

“Stray dogs and monitor lizards—and people—often dig up the nests and eat the eggs, which is why The Fortress resort is dedicated to preserving these beautiful marine animals.

“The main breeding season is from September to mid-April on the West coast of the island and from February to June on the East coast. During these periods there are no monsoon rains to dampen the eggs and also the beaches are very broad and sandy.”

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The Fortress Resort and Spa

A hotel fashioned in the style of a powerful fortress, The Fortress Resort and Spa is located in the heart of Koggala, a charismatic fishing town found along the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Rising next to the beach, the resort’s walls enclose verdant gardens and water features, a spa featuring Ayurvedic treatments, a freeflow swimming pool, wine cellar, restaurants, boutiques and exquisitely appointed rooms, lofts and residences.

The resort’s architecture forges historic Dutch and Portuguese styles with the motifs of Sri Lanka to offer a unique resort experience.

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