Sea turtles conservation station, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. Colombo’s very own sea turtle conservation centre: Just a short stroll along a stretch of paradise beach, just South beyond Mount Lavinia Beach, where the beach forms a point facing the ocean, many are unaware that you will find one of Colombo’s best kept secrets. Since 2003 OTCP (Our Turtle Conservation Project) has been hard at work ensuring the hatching, release, preserving and protecting of one of the sea’s most fascinating creatures – The Sea Turtle. As the name implies, it is a local initiative that aims to educate both locals and tourists about the importance of protecting these incredible sea dwellers, in a fun and interactive environment. Milan the project leader and committee chairman, along with a team of up to 4 volunteers, and sometimes a helping hand from the local fishermen in the area, are always at hand to proudly show you the work that they are doing. From their eagerness to show you around, to pointing out just what has been achieved from visitor donations, their pride and sense of accomplishment is very visible.
Of the 7 species of turtle in the world, 5 variants of turtle are found in the Sri Lankan waters alone and all are critically endangered, making the preservation of these valuable amniotes of vital importance for the people of Sri Lanka and the world. Turtles have been highly protected under the Protection Ordinance Law since 1972. Come play with, hold, interact and learn about these majestic creatures. As this is a working conservation centre, there is no telling what other amazing turtles may be visiting at any given time. See the egg enclosure where eggs are buried and date recorded eagerly awaiting their hatching. Interact and learn about the dangers facing turtles, their predators and the fact that only 1 in 1000 ever make it to adulthood. A visit to Our Turtle Conservation Project is an absolute must for locals and tourists alike. Visiting the hatchery, you will meet the friendly resident Green Turtles Mike and Raj, along with a group Leatherbacks and a somewhat grumpy Hawksbill who likes the attention as well as the odd nipped finger – he’s not called a Hawksbill for nothing.