Sri Lanka’s South Coast is a haven for beach goers. Tourists and locals alike visit the beach to enjoy the sun, sea and sand. A two-hour drive south from the capital, Colombo, will bring you to Balapitiya. This scenic little town, with its beaches of soft, golden sand, is less popular than some of the other coastal destinations. You can expect to find smaller crowds, only a handful of resorts along with the odd boutique hotel. Sri Lanka is known for turtle hatcheries, also located nearby in Kosgoda. Many hide behind the conservation banner to operate as mere profit-making tourist attractions.
For an authentic Sri Lankan experience in a lush rural setting, visit the River House Balapitiya, that is in close proximity to the hatchery. Turtle hatcheries, widely unregulated, are also popular among visitors to the area. Hatcheries market a chance to release hatchlings by hand into the ocean. This is a special experience for most, who are unaware that baby turtles need to swim out to sea immediately after hatching to increase their chances of survival. Scores of hatchlings swim around in large tanks until eager visitors pay to introduce them to the ocean. This interference and delay in the natural process drain the limited energy the young reptiles get from the egg at birth. When released days later they have no energy to outswim predators and die an untimely death. Another common practice, which includes digging up and relocating the eggs under the guise of protecting them, often leads to change in the gender of the eggs, which is determined by temperature during incubation. This disturbance has possibly led to an imbalance in the ratio of males to females.
Wildlife tourism is peaking in the little island nation however it is worth making it a sustainable one and it also lies in the hands of those who visit such places.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.