Turtle Sanctuary and Hatchery
Details about how to volunteer on this project can be found in the volunteering section.
Overview of the role of the hatchery.
This turtle hatchery and sanctuary was established 12 years ago by local fishermen, for turtles injured in fishing nets, as well as a place to ensure that the eggs of the 5 species of sea turtle that nest on Colombo's beaches are safe from human collection and animal predation. Although it's illegal, turtle eggs are dug up by humans and sold for food for as little as £0.05 (5 pence)/egg.
This is the only hatchery looking after the turtles on the Colombo coastline, which is one of the fastest developing cities in the world, and of course development means pressure on the turtles' nesting grounds, the city's beaches.
Furthermore, in June 2015, the golden sands stretching for 100 yards in front of the hatchery were washed away in the monsoon storms, taking with them the mangrove trees and coconut trees that had protected the coast, the hatchery, and the vital nesting grounds.
Who is supporting the hatchery?
At time of writing, Give A Fig Volunteering have supported the hatchery through the construction of a tank that replaced tanks destroyed in the storms of 2015. We also pay the custodian for each volunteer who has volunteered there. We also know of some supporters who have made one off contributions, but nothing that sustains the hatchery month by month.
Why are Give A Fig Volunteering supporting the hatchery?
There are a number of reasons why the hatchery needs support, all of which involve a number of Catch 22s
- The hatchery does not have a viable income. Unlike other hatcheries in the south, there is no main tourist road going past, which means there is no passing tourist trade.
- Volunteer organisations have used the hatchery in the past, but have not contributed financially to the hatchery.
- The hatchery is poorly advertised, as the custodian has no source of income other than (poor) ticket sales, and therefore does not have the income to advertise. Nor can he afford to ask for advice on advertising - which we are able to provide. One old sign close to a major hotel is in Sinhalese, which tourists can't read.
- Few locals know about the hatchery, despite the vital work it is doing.
- Due to the monsoon season, the fisherman only fish 6 months of the year, and they are unable to support the turtle hatchery themselves
- In the fishing off season, when there are less tourists, the price of fish rises, making it difficult to pay for food for the turtles that remain at the hatchery for care.
Plans for supporting the hatchery to grow its income
- Through Give A Fig volunteers volunteering at the hatchery, we will support the hatchery by paying a direct donation to the hatchery for each volunteer
- Through your donations, we will design leaflets for distribution and display at the hotels around Colombo and the island, offering money off the ticket on production of the leaflet. These we shall have translated into a number of languages. As turtel hatcheries are very popular with tourists, visitor numbers will increase, developing the self -sufficiency of the hatchery. We shall also suggest other things to do as part of a Colombo itinerary, potentially selling advertising space on the leaflets.
- Approx cost per 4000 A4 leaflets, for design, print, and distribution: £350
- We will create road and beach signs for prominent display. The cost includes the printing and design, the frames for the advertising boards, as well as taxes to two authorities for the display of the road signs.
- Approx Cost/road sign: £550
- Through sponsorship of £300/month, we can guarantee the custodian an income, which guarantees the long term viability of the hatchery and turtle protection, whilst the marketing strategies are being put in place.
- Through sponsorship of £75/month, we can pay for food for the turtles rehabilitating at the sanctuary, until their release..
- Through sponsorship of £50/month we can pay vets bills as they arise.
- We have the opportunity, with Milan, to renovate or build a house for use as a hostel, which will increase the income of the custodian, increasing the hatchery's chances of long term survival. Please us for further details.
- With increased numbers of visitors, there will be opportunity to work with the tourists, offering snorkeling, beach BBQs, and creative artwork with tourists' children.
Meeting Costs / becoming self-sufficient
Wages 1 f/t staff member: £250 pcm (in. pension and Income Tax)
The vital work of the sanctuary goes on year round, and depends for its income on receipts from tourists, which like fishing become limited during the west coast’s 6 monsoon months. Your donations support the custodian and only full time worker..
Veterinary Bills: £50 pcm
The sanctuary looks after many injured turtles that fisherman have found caught in drifting nets. Unfortunately, too many lose their limbs – some all of their limbs – and the vets are called to treat the turtles and prescribe medication.
Turtle Food: £1o / day
Each adult turtle without limbs are year round residents, and eat up to 1kg of fish or sea grass.
Support Milan's work through paying for food for the turtles.
Site Maintenance: £100 pcm
On-going maintenance, repair (turtle tanks, water filtration, roofing etc.), and renewal.
Year 1: £2,500 (3 road, and beach signs; leaflets)
Year 2+: £750 (literature, adverts tour magazines, road sign taxes)
Cost: £50 PCM
Marketing and advertising is essential for the sanctuary’s self-sufficiency.